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Song Of The Day Blog:

4th Of July Playlist

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4th Of July Playlist

Here’s my own personal 4th Of July Playlist. I’m sure there are songs you feel deserving of such an endeavor. If so, add them and let me know…

 

  1. Woody Guthrie: This Land Is Your Land http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaI5IRuS2aE
  2. Ray Charles: America The Beautiful http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRUjr8EVgBg
  3. The Beach Boys: Spirit Of America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc0cvsSwvs0
  4. Grateful Dead: U.S. Blues http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPBLfzTPCDc
  5. Chicago: Saturday In The Park https://youtu.be/PLiMy4NaSKc
  6. John Mellencamp: Pink Houses http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOfkpu6749w
  7. Los Lobos: One Time One Night https://youtu.be/cjq4y9EFLMA
  8. X: 4th Of July https://youtu.be/lhu807VUY24
  9. Aimee Mann: 4th Of July https://youtu.be/vOYI85anqmQ
  10. Bruce Springsteen: 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) https://youtu.be/KgFHM8HMbWQ
  11. Hair Original Cast: Don’t Put It Down https://youtu.be/_w2gyWE0M0k
  12. West Side Story Original Soundtrack: America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy6wo2wpT2k
  13. David Bowie: Young Americans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFudBQcplj4
  14. The Clash: I’m So Bored With The U.S.A. https://youtu.be/A13vj5vdlCU
  15. Devo: Freedom Of Choice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVGINIsLnqU
  16. Neil Diamond: America http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3S7mlRYL-8
  17. Paul Simon: American Tune http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE3kKUEY5WU
  18. Johnny Cash: Ragged Old Flag http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbbGi3mTjCo
  19. Jimi Hendrix: The Star Spangled Banner http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_3uHYd7pV0

 

Posted: July 4th, 2015 under Broadway Musicals, Country, Easy Listening, Folk, Hair, Music, Rock, West Side Story - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #47 – Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band: “Garden Party” b/w “So Long Mama” – Decca 45 32980 (N5/P5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #47 – Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band: “Garden Party” b/w “So Long Mama” – Decca 45 32980 (N5/P5)

There are only a few artists that have more than one record in my jukebox, and today’s song is the second record by Rick Nelson. Previously, The Jukebox Series #30 focused on a double slab of rockabilly by way of Ricky Nelson’s “Stood Up”/”Waitin’ In School” single from the late 1950s when he was at the pinnacle of his popularity recording for Imperial Records. Today’s jukebox classic looks at “Garden Party,” Nelson’s last big hit single from the early 1970s.

From 1957 to 1962, Nelson scored 30 Top-40 hits including “A Teenager’s Romance (#2 Pop), “I’m Walkin’” (#4 Pop), “Be Bop Baby” (#3 Pop ), “Stood Up” ( #2 Pop/#8 Country), “Poor Little Fool” (#1 Pop/#3 Country), “Lonesome Town” (#7 Pop), “It’s Late” (#9 Pop), “Never Be Anyone Else But You” (#6 Pop), “Just A Little Too Much” (#9 Pop), “Sweeter Than You” (#9 Pop), “Travelin’ Man” (#1 Pop), “Hello Mary Lou” (#9 Pop), “Young World” (#5 Pop), “Teen Age Idol” (#5 Pop) and “For You” (#6 Pop).

In 1963, Nelson signed a long-term deal with Decca Records. Although his Decca era produced some solidly great albums and singles, his standing on the charts was dismal. As the 1960s came to a close, you pretty much could not give a Rick Nelson record away and things got so bad that Nelson began performing shows on the oldies circuit at county fairs.

By 1972, Nelson had released 15 albums for Decca Records, each one with increasingly diminished sales. Without the radio and TV exposure that Nelson had benefitted from in the past, he was deeply entrenched in a commercial slump that it seemed at the time he would never recover from.

Nelson had formed a sturdy country rock outfit to back him called The Stone Canyon Band that included Nelson on guitar and vocals, Allen Kemp on guitar, Tom Brumley on steel guitar, Stephen A. Love on bass and Patrick Shanahan on drums. The band focused on playing original country rock material that was very much in step with the times, but played against the sensibility of his older fan base who wanted to see their hero only play his hits of the past. His sets usually consisted of mostly originals with a few oldies thrown in for good measure. Even so, oldies like “Hello Mary Lou” were totally reworked as country songs.

In October of 1971, Nelson performed on a rock and roll oldies bill with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Bobby Rydell at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Nelson appeared on stage wearing bell-bottomed pants and a purple velvet shirt with hair down to his shoulders. The band launched into a set that featured mostly new material which was roundly met with boos from the audience. Disgusted by the response his new material received by the audience, Nelson went home, licked his wounds and wrote today’s jukebox classic “Garden Party.”

The song’s lyrics summed up the entire experience thusly: “But it’s all right now, I’ve learned my lesson well. You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

There were many veiled references throughout the song about the people who attended the concert, the songs Nelson performed on stage, and the other artists on the bill. One lyric speaks about Yoko bringing her walrus (which was John Lennon) and another, “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes, wearing his disguise” referred to another Beatle. The Mr. Hughes in the song was not Howard Hughes, but Nelson’s good friend George Harrison who was also his next door neighbor. Harrison used the “Hughes” alias when he traveled. The Dylan’s shoes line is a reference to an album of Dylan covers Harrison was planning to record which never materialized.

The line “I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me” is a reference to two songs that Nelson preformed that night, his own hit “Hello Mary Lou” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me,” and the line “I sang a song about a Honky-Tonk” refers to Nelson’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Country Honk” he also performed. The last line of the song, “But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck,” is a reference to Elvis Presley and the job he had before he became a star.

When released as a single, “Garden Party” became Nelson’s first top ten hit since “For You” in 1963, climbing to #6 on the Billboard Singles charts and topping the Adult Contemporary list. The song has been covered by Johnny Lee, John Fogerty and Phish.

The flip of today’s single is a somewhat nondescript country romp written by Nelson from the Garden Party album that features some great picking in the intro. Nelson died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1985. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 30th, 2015 under Country, Music, Rick Nelson, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #46 – Elton John: “Bennie And The Jets” b/w “Harmony” – MCA 45 40198 (K5/L5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #46 – Elton John: “Bennie And The Jets” b/w “Harmony” – MCA 45 40198 (K5/L5)

To think that today’s jukebox classic which was a #1 hit here in the United States, wasn’t even considered for a single release at all in the UK. That says something about the ultra-high quality of the songs on Elton John’s seventh album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton John had little faith in the song as a single and was against its release. John: “I fought tooth and nail against ‘Bennie’ coming out as a single,” (The Making Of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Eagle Vision DVD) and he was shocked when the record topped the US charts.

The song was released as a single only after it began to receive airplay in Ontario, Canada and Detroit where it topped the local radio charts. Once it was released, it also topped the national charts and sold almost three million copies. The song also peaked at #15 on the Billboard Soul Singles chart paving the way for John’s appearance on Soul Train in 1975 where he performed the song and “Philadelphia Freedom.”

(It should be noted that while “Bennie And The Jets” wasn’t released as a single in the UK, they got “Candle In The Wind” in its place which wasn’t released here as a single until John re-recorded it in tribute to Princess Diana after her death.)

While “Bennie And The Jets” sounds like a live concert recording, it is actually a studio track. Producer Gus Dudgeon suggested they give it a live concert ambience by mixing reverb and applause from some of Elton’s concerts into the mix of the track. He also used some audience sounds from Jimi Hendrix’s Isle Of Wight concert as well.

In interviews, Bernie Taupin has said that the song was written as a parody of the music industry, and the character of Bennie was a futuristic space age female rocker. Taupin: “‘Bennie And The Jets’ was almost Orwellian – it was supposed to be futuristic. They were supposed to be a prototypical female rock ‘n’ roll band out of science fiction.” (Esquire Magazine) John saw the song as paying homage to the current glam rock scene, and as time went on, he began to dress in more outrageous stage outfits and began to take on the character of Bennie on stage.

It was also Elton’s idea to add the stutter on the word Bennie, which is one of the song’s major calling cards. Taupin: “That’s a little quirk of the song which I’m sad to say I had nothing to do with. That and that wonderful big chord at the beginning, I think those two things are what probably made that song so popular. Neither of which I had anything to do with.”

The song has been covered by rapper Biz Markie and The Beastie Boys, and it was sampled by Mary J. Blige on her track “Deep Inside” (which Elton plays piano on). It was also spoofed in 2008 by Ben Folds on his Way Too Normal album. Folds used “Benny” as the basis for his song “Hiroshima (b b b benny hits his head)” which tells the true story of how he fell off of the stage and cut himself while performing in Japan.

By the 1973 release of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John’s career was so white-hot he could do no wrong. His previous album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player (released in 1972) topped the charts in 1973 and sold millions of copies. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road followed suit by selling more than 31 million copies and staying at the top of the album charts for two months. Working titles for the album included Vodka and Tonics and Silent Movies, Taking Pictures.

While releasing a double album was not their initial intention, John and Taupin were so prolific during this period that they’d worked up more than enough quality material for a single album. The album captures Elton John at his commercial apex and at the height of his creative powers. The fact that it contained several of his most indelible singles, “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” “Bennie And The Jets,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Candle In The Wind,” was just the icing on the cake.

But it’s the lesser known gems here that really steal the show – “This Song Has No Title,” “I’ve Seen That Movie To,” “Grey Seal” (which had been kicking around since 1970), “All the Girls Love Alice” and the flip side of today’s single “Harmony” – they are indeed some of the best songs John has ever written and recorded.

All of the album’s lyrics were written by Taupin in two weeks, while John composed the music over a three day period at The Pink Flamingo Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica. John wanted to record the album in Jamaica because The Rolling Stones had just completed Goats Head Soup in the same studio. But problems with the sound system and complications from the Joe Frazier/George Forman boxing match taking place in the city forced the band to move to France.

John’s fantastic touring group, consisting of Davey Johnstone on guitar, Dee Murray on bass, Nigel Olsson on drums and Ray Cooper on percussion, settled in at Château d’Hérouville in France where the two previous Elton John albums were recorded. Sessions took place over a two week period and the band was augmented by Kiki Dee on background vocals and Del Newman providing the orchestral arrangements.

The flip of today’s single is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’s final track. “Harmony” was originally considered to be released as the fourth single from the album, but by the time they were ready to release it, John’s next album Caribou was ready to hit the racks. The song ultimately received plenty of airplay anyway and charted regionally. It’s a great track and the perfect closer to Elton’s magnum opus album. When it was finally released as a single in Britain in 1980, it failed to chart.

Superstardom continued for Elton and company for a few more years until the inevitable decline brought on by hard living. But fear not for Elton, he ultimately weathered the dry patch that lasted almost ten years (and to be fair, did include a few hits), cleaned up his hard-partying act and recovered nicely by writing songs for Disney films, most notably The Lion King.

His latest album The Diving Board was released last year to mostly positive reviews.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 29th, 2015 under Elton John, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #45 – Melanie: “Brand New Key” b/w “Ring The Living Bell” – MCA 45-N-2737 (I5/J5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #45 – Melanie: “Brand New Key” b/w “Ring The Living Bell” – MCA 45-N-2737 (I5/J5)

Today’s jukebox classic came out in 1972 when roller skating and roller rinks were all the rage in my eleven year old age group, and the song “Brand New Key” certainly spoke our language.

I had already been exposed to Melanie’s music since 1970 through my older sister who became so enamored by her, that she scrambled to not only get her latest Candles In the Rain album, but also her first one called Born To Be. She used to blast “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)” with The Edwin Hawkins Singers frequently around the house much to the chagrin of my parents. Needless to say, our house was filled with Melanie’s histrionic vocals and songs about peace, beautiful people, leftover wine and Winnie the Pooh, and as a result of her fascination with Melanie Safka, I paid close attention. For it was Melanie’s covers of James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind” and The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” that introduced my young ears to the original versions.

Melanie not only interpreted the popular songs of the day, but she also had quite a few first-rate original songs that were favorites including “What Have They Done To My Song Ma,” “Ring The Living Bell,” “The Nickel Song” and “Beautiful People.” More Melanie albums followed in my sister’s collection including Leftover Wine from 1970, The Good Book from 1971 and Gather Me from 1972, before she left for college and outgrew her muse.

Melanie formed her own Neighborhood record label in 1972 and released today’s single which topped the charts and sold over three million copies. To my sister and her age group, the song was the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused them to pretty much decide that she’d become yesterday’s news.

But to my age group, Melanie’s star was on the rise. Forget the apparent double entendre going on in the lyrics to “Brand New Key,” with locks and keys, and “going pretty far,” that was all lost on me and my cohort the first time around.

To be honest, I really didn’t like the song much when it was a hit. I saw it for what it was…a novelty that was capitalizing on a craze. However, millions found the song to their liking by sending it up to the top of the charts. Today, the song is a guilty pleasure, but the fact that I have the single in my jukebox says that it is still a nostalgic pleasure.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic was the follow-up single to “Brand New Key,” which was also from Melanie’s 1971 Gather Me album. “Ring The Living Bell” is an anthem that was written by Melanie with a swelling chorus that reached the #31 position on the pop charts.

When Neighborhood Records released the single, Buddah Records (her previous record company) dug up one of Melanie’s older recordings, “The Nickel Song” and released it as a single to compete on the charts. Meanwhile, “Brand New Key” was still on the charts. As a result Melanie became the first artist to have three top forty hits on the charts at the same time.

As the 1970s came to an end, so did Melanie’s hit making days. Today, she occasionally performs concerts and releases albums. I never got to see Melanie perform back in the day, but I’d bet it would be a hoot to see her now.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 28th, 2015 under Melanie, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #44 – Blood, Sweat & Tears: “Spinning Wheel” b/w “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45-4-33168 (G5/H5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #44 – Blood, Sweat & Tears: “Spinning Wheel” b/w “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45-4-33168 (G5/H5)

“What goes up…must come down…” not only is this the first line to Blood Sweat & Tears’ signature hit, but it also foreshadowed the group’s red hot ascent to the top, and its equally quick drop out of fashion.

Blood, Sweat & Tears had their genesis in an experiment by ex-Blues Project member and Bob Dylan sideman, Al Kooper. Kooper wanted to create a group that melded jazz horns to rock rhythms for a fresh new sound. Kooper: “Like Maynard Ferguson’s band from the years 1960-1964, I wanted a horn section that would play more than the short adjectives they were relegated to in R&B bands; but, on the other hand, a horn section that would play less than Count Basie’s or Buddy Rich’s. Somewhere in the middle was a mixture of soul, rock, and jazz that was my little fantasy.” (Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards by Al Kooper).

Kooper formed Blood Sweat & Tears with Jim Fielder, Fred Lipsius, Randy Brecker, Jerry Weiss, Steve Katz and Bobby Colomby. Kooper was fond of the production that James William Guercio provided for The Buckinghams and for the first BS&T album, Child Is Father To The Man, the two paved the way for horn-laden groups like Chicago Transit Authority, The Ides Of March and Chase that would soon rule the charts.

After working on BS&T’s debut album, Kooper left the group moving on to Super Session fame with a whole host of recording artists. With Kooper gone, BS&T members Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz began looking for a new vocalist and had considered Alex Chilton (of The Box Tops and later Big Star), Stephen Stills and Laura Nyro for the job, before going with a throaty Canadian singer named David Clayton-Thomas who was recommended to them by Judy Collins.

Not only did Clayton-Thomas bring a bona-fide personality to the band via his rough and raw vocal prowess, but he also wrote their biggest hit (and today’s jukebox classic) “Spinning Wheel.” Clayton-Thomas: The song was “written in an age when psychedelic imagery was all over lyrics…it was my way of saying, ‘Don’t get too caught up, because everything comes full circle.” (Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of #1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), page 74.)

The song quickly climbed to the #2 position on the charts in 1969 and was nominated for three Grammy Awards, winning one for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 1970. As a goof, the band interpolated an Austrian tune from 1815 called “O Du Lieber Augustin” (or “The More We Get Together”) to end the song.

The song was like catnip to the many middle-of-the-road vocalists of the late sixties and was covered by Shirley Bassey, James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee, Chet Baker, Ted Heath and many others.

The flip of today’s jukebox classic is “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.” The song was originally a Motown hit written by Berry Gordy, Frank Wilson, Brenda Holloway and Patrice Holloway, and recorded by Brenda Holloway who brought the song to the #39 position of the charts in 1967. It was initially Kooper’s idea for the band to record the song, but by the time they committed it to wax, he’d already left their ranks. It was one of three singles that climbed to the #2 position on the pop charts from their Blood Sweat & Tears album. (The other two were “Spinning Wheel” and the Laura Nyro song “And When I Die.”)

Like “Spinning Wheel,” the song saw numerous east listening covers by the likes of Lou Rawls, Gloria Estefan, John Davidson, Rosemary Clooney, Cher, Shirley Bassey, Damita Jo, Eydie Gorme, Ray Conniff, Diana Ross, Ramsey Lewis, Candi Staton, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Dusty Springfield and many others.

The eponymously titled album topped the charts for seven weeks in 1969, sold over four million copies and won the Grammy for Album Of The Year, beating out The Beatles Abbey Road. It featured the stellar lineup of David Clayton-Thomas on vocals, Lew Soloff on trumpet, Bobby Colomby on drums, Jim Fielder on bass, Dick Halligan on keyboards, Steve Katz on guitar, Fred Lipsius on saxophone, Chuck Winfield on trumpet, Jerry Hyman on trombone, performing an eclectic mix of songs including a version of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child,” Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die,” Traffic’s “Smiling Phases” and several classical pieces composed by Erik Satie.

The group appeared at Woodstock at the height of their popularity; however their performance wasn’t filmed at the insistence of their manager who hadn’t negotiated terms for the filming of their set. By the time of the release of the Woodstock film, Blood Sweat & Tears had missed the boat on being accepted by the hip rock cognoscenti and were subsequently seen as a lightweight AM radio singles band.

The band’s quick decline came on the heels of several other equally bad decisions including their participation on a tour of Eastern Europe sponsored by the U.S. Department Of State (during a time when their fan base was highly suspect of all things government), and then playing shows in Vegas. Even though their record sales dramatically slumped, they have continued to persevere and still tour today with American Idol runner-up Bo Bice as their lead singer and Glenn McClelland of Ween on keyboards.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 17th, 2015 under Blood Sweat & Tears, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #43 – Chicago II Jukebox EP: “Movin’ In”/”Wake Up Sunshine”/”To Be Free” b/w “West Virginia Fantasies”/”Colour My World”/”It Better End Soon 2nd Movement” – Columbia Special Coin Operator Release 33⅓ Jukebox EP 7-KGP-24 (D5/E5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #43 – Chicago II Jukebox EP: “Movin’ In”/”Wake Up Sunshine”/”To Be Free” b/w “West Virginia Fantasies”/”Colour My World”/”It Better End Soon 2nd Movement” – Columbia Special Coin Operator Release 33⅓ Jukebox EP 7-KGP-24 (D5/E5)

Jukebox EPs (or extended plays, or tiny albums) were made for the coin operated jukebox market during the 1950s through the mid-1970s. They were small-holed 7” records that played at 33⅓ RPM and cost 25-50 cents per play. They typically included four to six tracks from an album and afforded the listener at a diner or bar an extended taste of a record by their favorite artist.

Today’s jukebox EP is culled from the second album by Chicago Transit Authority who by 1970 shortened their name to just plain Chicago. The album carried the title Chicago as well, but it is far better known as Chicago II. Although the album spawned several big singles including “25 Or 6 To 4,” “Make Me Smile,” and “Colour My World,” only one of them is present on the jukebox EP that was released to promote the album on coin operated machines.

Chicago’s first three records were all double albums, which was unheard of at the time. Their manager and producer, James William Guercio, had just come off of working with Blood Sweat & Tears and he used his clout with Columbia Records to push the notion of double albums through.

This gave the band featuring Robert Lamm on keyboards, Terry Kath on guitar, Peter Cetera on vocals, James Pankow on trombone, Lee Loughnane on trumpet, Walter Parazaider on saxophone and Danny Seraphine on drums, room to stretch their musical muscle especially on their debut album. By the time of their second release, Chicago began to shorten their tunes and play up the horns, leading them to the dominance of the singles charts they’d have for the rest of the 1970s.

The highlight of the second Chicago album was the suite that took up most of side two called “Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon” which included three songs on today’s EP, “Colour My World,” “To Be Free” and “West Virginia Fantasies.” The Buchannon of the suite’s title was actually a misspelling of Buckhannon, West Virginia. (songfacts.com)

After the band recorded the suite, they were hesitant to have singles edited from it for release. When the band acquiesced, they ended up releasing two of their most beloved singles, “Make Me Smile” which climbed to the #9 position on the charts in 1970, and “Colour My World” which went two slots higher to #7 in 1971.

“Colour My World” was the slow dance classic of 1970 and has also proven over the years to be one of the band’s best-loved recordings. It was written by trombone player James Pankow and features Terry Kath singing the lead vocals with Walter Parazaider on the flute solo.

James Panko (as told on The Chris Isaac Hour TV show): “It’s a small segment of a multi-movement piece on our second album which is basically a tribute to my first love. I had been listening to Bach – the Brandenburg Concertos, and they had all those arpeggiated melodies. I sat at a piano and started messing around with these arpeggios. That cycle of arpeggios became the foundation of the song. Frank Sinatra called our publicist and said, ‘Ask that kid to write another verse for that song.’ I thought about it, I called him back and said I can’t do it – it’s like sewing another arm on your kid, I can’t do it.”

Other songs on the EP include “West Virginia Fantasies,” an instrumental from the Suite that highlights the group’s compositional acumen; “It Better End Soon 2nd Movement” which was also from the album’s other extended suite that took on the Nixon administration, “Movin’ In” the opening track to Chicago II, “To Be Free” (another instrumental) and the single “Make Me Smile.” The album climbed to the #4 position on the U.S. charts upon its release in 1970.

The band continued to rule the charts throughout the 1970s becoming one of the decade’s biggest hit makers until Terry Kath died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1978 while participating in a game of Russian roulette. The band would never be the same again without him.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 16th, 2015 under Chicago, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #42 – The Flamingos: “I Only Have Eyes For You” b/w “Love Walked In” – Roulette Golden Goodies Series 45 RPM Single GG20 (C5/D5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #42 – The Flamingos: “I Only Have Eyes For You” b/w “Love Walked In” – Roulette Golden Goodies Series 45 RPM Single GG20 (C5/D5)

You’d be hard pressed to find a sweeter, more sumptuous doo wop classic than today’s Grammy Hall Of Fame recording by The Flamingos, a group that Billboard called “one of the finest and most influential vocal groups in pop music history.”

Cousins Jake and Ezekial Carey grew up in Baltimore hailing from the same neighborhood as Sonny Til of The Orioles. They relocated to Chicago where they formed The Flamingos in 1953. After numerous personnel changes and stints recording for record labels like Chance, Parrot, Checker (a Chess subsidiary where they scored their first big hit “I’ll Be Home”) and Decca, they signed to George Goldner’s End Records in 1958.

At the time, the group consisted of Nate Nelson, Jake Carey, Paul Wilson, Tommy Hunt and Terry “Buzzy” Johnson. Goldner’s modus operandi was to steer the group away from recording original material in favor of recording standards, which is how they came to record today’s dreamy jukebox classic “I Only Have Eyes For You.”

The song was written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin for the 1934 film Dames. It became a hit by Ben Selvin reaching the #2 position on the charts in 1934 and The Flamingos recorded it in 1958 sending it up to the #11 position on the pop charts and #5 R&B in 1959. The recording comes from a long line of records whose production enhancements (like the reverb on the background vocals) are equally as important as the performance, in creating a perfectly plush celestial atmosphere.

The song was from The Flamingos’ 1959 album Flamingo Serenade that also featured their one-of-a-kind takes on such standards as “As Time Goes By,” “Where Or When,” “I’m In the Mood For Love,” “But Not For Me,” “Love Walked In” (the flip of today’s single), “Begin the Beguine,” “Music, Maestro, Please!,” “Time Was” and “Goodnight Sweetheart.” While “I Only Have Eyes For You” was by far their biggest hit, their other hits included “Mio Amore,” the Doc Pomus song “Your Other Love,” “Nobody Loves Me Like You” (written by Sam Cooke) and “I Was Such A Fool.”

There have been literally hundreds of cover versions of today’s song by the likes of Eddy Duchin, Al Jolson, Billie Holiday, June Christy, Rosemary Clooney, Doris Day, Dinah Shore, Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Lester Bowie, Carmen McRae, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, The Lettermen, Jerry Butler, Toni Tennille, Bette Midler, Kenny Rogers, Art Garfunkel, George Benson, Mark Eitzel, Carly Simon and Rod Stewart, but The Flamingos’ version reigns supreme. The group’s opulent harmonies had a profound influence on the Motown and Philadelphia soul sound, and their stage choreography was a major influence on The Temptations and numerous other doo wop and soul groups.

By 1960, Hunt left for a solo career on Scepter Records and Nate and Terry split to form The Modern Flamingos in 1961 who recorded an album for Atco Records, who forced them to change their name to The Starglows. The Flamingos were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001 and Tommy Hunt, Terry Johnson and Johnny Carter performed together at the ceremony. Terry Johnson owns The Flamingos name and still tours today, recently releasing The Diamond Anniversary Tour CD in 2013 featuring the current lineup of Terry Johnson, Starling Newsome, Stan Prinston and Theresa Trigg.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 15th, 2015 under Doo Wop, Music, The Flamingos - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #41 – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap: “Woman Woman” b/w “Young Girl” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45 RPM Single 13-33133 (A5/B5)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #41 – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap: “Woman Woman” b/w “Young Girl” – Columbia Hall Of Fame 45 RPM Single 13-33133 (A5/B5)

Today’s jukebox single features two songs with perfect trebly production that sound great coming out of the jukebox speakers, and if memory serves me right, even better pouring out of the mono speaker of the GE transistor radio I had as a kid. Gary Puckett and the Union Gap scored numerous hits during a short period in the late sixties including “Woman Woman,” “Lady Willpower,” and “Young Girl,” featuring horn-soaked arrangements and plaintive soulful vocals.

Gary Puckett was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, the same town that gave us Bob Dylan. He cut his teeth in a band called The Outcasts with band mates Kerry Chater on bass, Gary “Mutha” Withem on keyboards, Dwight Bement on saxophone and Paul Wheatbread on drums. They released two singles that went absolutely nowhere.

In 1967, the band renamed themselves The Union Gap, from the town Puckett grew up in, Union Gap, Washington which was also the site of the famous Battle of Fulbright Park during the Civil War. As a result they began to wear Civil War uniforms at performances. They also furthered the gimmick by taking on ranks. (Puckett was a general, while Whitbread and Withem were privates, etc.).

After hearing their demo, the band was signed by A&R man Jerry Fuller at Columbia Records on the strength of Puckett’s earthy voice. Their debut single was “Woman Woman,” which sold over a million copies and climbed to the #4 position on the pop charts in 1967. The song was written by Jimmy Payne and Jim Glaser (of 70s country artists Tompall and The Glaser Brothers) and covered by the likes of Glen Campbell, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Lettermen and big band legend Ted Heath.

Their follow-up hit was the song featured on the flip of today’s double A-sided single “Young Girl” which climbed to #2 on the charts in 1968. “Young Girl” was written by Jerry Fuller (who also wrote their hits “Lady Willpower” and “Over You,” as well as Ricky Nelson’s “Traveling Man”).

The song came off innocently enough back in 1968, but today sounds somewhat creepy. Fuller: “I was on the road a lot as an artist, fronting various groups for many years. I guess every entertainer goes through a time when 14-year-olds look like 20-year-olds. That’s somewhat of an inspiration not from my own experience, just knowing that it happens.” (1000 UK #1 Hits) “Young Girl” was also covered by Gary Lewis and the Playboys and Frida (aka Anni-Frid Lyndgstad) of ABBA.

The group’s other hits included “Lady Willpower” (#2/1968), “Over You,” (#7/1968), “Don’t Give In To Him” (#15/1969) and “This Girl’s A Woman Now” (#9/1969), and in 1968 they sold more singles in the U.S. than The Beatles.

Fuller was responsible for their magically crafted sound that fit in perfectly on radio playlists along with then current hits by Blood Sweat and Tears and The Chicago Transit Authority. In 1969, they were nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy, but lost out to Jose Feliciano. The group soon grew restless with the middle-of-the-road pop power ballads that Fuller was providing for them to record and Puckett wanted to take the group in a different direction.

Things came to a head when they were to participate in a session Fuller booked for them with a full blown studio orchestra. Puckett and the group refused to record the song and the session was canceled, ending their relationship with Fuller…and their run of big hits at Columbia Records. Puckett then embarked on a largely unsuccessful solo career and by 1972 he found himself without a recording contract.

In 1981, Puckett resurrected The Union Gap and ever since they have been regulars on the oldies circuit. His most recent album is a holiday collection in 2001 called The Gary Puckett Christmas Album. The current Union Gap lineup consists of Woody Lingle on bass, Jamie Hilboldt on keyboards and Mike Candito on drums.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 14th, 2015 under Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #40 – ? And The Mysterians: “96 Tears” b/w “I Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby” – Abkco 45 RPM Single 4020 (U4/V4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #40 – ? And The Mysterians: “96 Tears” b/w “I Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby” – Abkco 45 RPM Single 4020 (U4/V4)

Who are ? and the Mysterians…that is the question.

? And The Mysterians formed in 1962 and was the first Latino Band to score a major hit record in the U.S. with today’s jukebox classic. They were purveyors of rough and raunchy garage rock from Bay City, Michigan, and their signature chart-topping “96 Tears” was released in 1966 selling over one million copies. The song was recorded in the living room of a house in Saginaw Michigan.

The original band consisted of Robert Balderama on guitar, his cousin Larry Borjas on bass, Robert Martinez on drums and his brother Rudy Martinez on vocals. Rudy Martinez went under the name “?,” so as to remain anonymous and the rest of the group took their name from a Japanese sci-fi film called The Mysterians. Further adding to the intrigue, the band always wore dark shades.

As they were getting ready to record their first record, Robert Martinez was drafted and Borjas enlisted along with him. As a result, the band added Eddie Serrato on drums and Frank Lugo on bass. Crucially, they also recruited a fourteen year old piano player named Frank Rodriguez. It was this lineup that recorded their signature hit “96 Tears,” which was written by Rudy Martinez who supplied the sturdy Vox Continental organ riff that drives the song.

The song had its genesis from a poem Martinez wrote fourteen years earlier called “Too Many Teardrops.” It was originally intended to be the flip side of their debut single, however Rodriguez insisted that the track be the A-side. The single became a regional hit on the Pa-Go-Go record label and was later picked up for national distribution by Cameo-Parkway Records.

The song has been covered numerous times including a version by Garland Jeffries from his 1980 album Escape Artist that received significant FM radio airplay. It was also covered by David Byrne, The Cramps, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Aretha Franklin, Big Maybell, Thelma Houston, The Modern Lovers, Iggy Pop, the Music Explosion, the Residents, The Stranglers, Suicide, Tom Tom Club and Todd Rundgren’s Utopia.

Can’t Get Enough Of You Baby,” the flip of today’s jukebox single shares the exact same organ introduction as “96 Tears.” The song was released as a single in 1967 where it peaked at #56 on the Billboard Singles Chart. It has been covered by Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons, The Colourfield and Smash Mouth who brought the song to the #14 position of the singles charts in 1998.

The group splintered in the 1970s and the original lineup reformed with Robert Martinez replacing Serrato on drums, due to his condition suffering from multiple sclerosis. A concert was recorded in Dallas, Texas in 1984 and was released by the ROIR records as The Dallas Re-Union Tapes.

The group’s original Cameo-Parkway albums came under the ownership of uber-manager Allen Klein (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals) who let them go out of print and kept them off the market for many years, thinking they would become a more valuable commodity. As a result, a different lineup of the group re-recorded the 96 Tears album for the Collectables record label in 1997. The original album received a reissue by Collector’s Choice label several years ago and remains in print today.

After playing shows as part of Cave Stomp, a festival of reformed garage rock bands produced by New York promoter Jon Weiss, they released another live album. The band recorded their final album of new material called More Action in 1999 before acrimoniously parting ways with Weiss over dissatisfaction with the record.

The band still performs from time to time and has been featured on Steve Van Zandt’s influential radio show Underground Garage.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 9th, 2015 under ? And the Mysterians, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #39 – Glen Campbell: “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Galveston” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 6093 (S4/T4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #39 – Glen Campbell: “Wichita Lineman” b/w “Galveston” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 6093 (S4/T4)

Glen Campbell’s long, storied career is Forrest Gump-like in its nature. He was a member of The Champs, who sent the hit “Tequila” up the charts (before he joined them). He was part of The Wrecking Crew, the West Coast studio elite session musicians who played on literally hundreds of hits during the 1960s by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, The Monkees, The 5th Dimension, Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys and Elvis Presley, to name but a few. He was also a touring member of The Beach Boys replacing Brian Wilson on the road in 1964-1965, and playing on the group’s masterpiece Pet Sounds.

He’s a recording artist in his own rite that has sold millions of records and won countless Grammy, Country Music Association and Academy Of Country Music Awards. He’s also a member of the Country Hall Of Fame and was a popular TV host of his own Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour variety show whose connections in the music industry allowed him to feature top-shelf musical guests including The Beatles (on film), The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and dozens of others. He was also a movie star who shared the screen with John Wayne in the film True Grit.

Today’s jukebox classic is a double-shot of Jimmy Webb-penned classics performed by Glen Campbell. The A-side of today’s jukebox single (if you can actually delegate A & B sides to two songs this strong) is “Wichita Lineman,” a million-selling #3 hit from 1968. The song was written by Jimmy Webb who also wrote classic sixties hits like “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Up-Up And Away” and “MacArthur Park.”

Webb’s inspiration for the song came from a drive he took through the telephone pole-lined roads of Washita County, Oklahoma. As he passed through an endless stream of telephone poles, he noticed a single county lineman in the distance working atop one of the poles. He saw the man as a picture of loneliness, which got him reflecting back on a failed relationship he had with a woman who also served as the inspiration for his song “MacArthur Park.” Webb placed himself on top of the pole speaking into the telephone receiver for the song.

Webb: “I’ve never worked with high-tension wires or anything like that. My characters were all ordinary guys. They were all blue-collar guys who did ordinary jobs…They came from places like Galveston and Wichita and places like that…I (had) a very specific image of a guy I saw working up on the wires out in the Oklahoma panhandle one time with a telephone in his hand talking to somebody. And this exquisite aesthetic balance of all these telephone poles just decreasing in size as they got further and further away from the viewer – that being me – and as I passed him, he began to diminish in size. The country is so flat, it was like this one quick snapshot of this guy rigged up on a pole with this telephone in his hand. And this song came about, really, from wondering what that was like, what it would be like to be working up on a telephone pole and what would you be talking about? Was he talking to his girlfriend? Probably just doing one of those checks where they called up and said, ‘Mile marker 46,’ you know. ‘Everything’s working so far.’” (SongFacts.com)

The song’s orchestral swells were created by Al DeLory to reflect the shimmering sound of the wind “singing through the wires” atop the poles. The musicians playing on the track were all Wrecking Crew stalwarts including Campbell, Al Casey and James Burton on guitar, Carol Kaye on bass, Jim Gordon on drums and Al DeLory on piano. It has been covered by the likes of Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis, Robert Goulet, Andy Williams, Bobby Goldsboro, Engelbert Humperdink, Jose Feliciano, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, James Taylor and R.E.M.

On the flip is Campbell’s take on an anti-war song that Jimmy Webb wrote while hanging out on the beaches of Galveston, Texas. It came to Campbell’s attention via Hawaiian singer Don Ho, who recorded a version of the song that was released as the flip side of his “Has Anybody Lost A Love” single in 1968. When Ho appeared on Campbell’s Goodtime Hour TV show in 1969, he gave him a copy of his recording of the song and suggested that he give it a whirl in the studio.

When Campbell recorded the song, he changed the lyrics, replacing the line “Wonder if she could forget me, I’d go home if they would let me, put down this gun and go to Galveston” with “I still hear your sea waves crashing/as I watch the cannons flashing/ I clean my gun/And dream of Galveston.”

Campbell’s version climbed to #4 on the Billboard Pop Charts, and topped the Country and Easy Listening charts in 1969. It also sold over a million copies. “Galveston” was the title track of his 1969 album of the same name which topped the Country Charts and charted at #2 pop. Like his previous album, the musicians included such Wrecking Crew stalwarts as Campbell and Al Casey on guitar, Hal Blaine and Bob Felts on drums, Jo Osborne on bass and Dennis McCarthy on piano.

Currently Campbell is battling Alzheimer’s disease. After completing his final album, he took to the road several years ago. The exceptional documentary I’ll Be Me follows him on his last tour before retiring for good.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 7th, 2015 under Easy Listening, Glen Campbell, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #38 – The Zombies: “She’s Not There” b/w “Tell Her No” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 3556 (Q4/R4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #38 – The Zombies: “She’s Not There” b/w “Tell Her No” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 3556 (Q4/R4)

The Zombies’ fingerprints can be felt all over the music of The Byrds, The Doors, Crowded House and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Elvis was a big fan and they were hugely influenced by The Beatles, as well as being an influence on The Beatles. John Lennon wanted to produce them, and the sound of today’s double A-sided jukebox single with their debut hit “She’s Not There” on the A-side and the ultra-Lennonesque “Tell Her No” on the flip is, in my estimation, a perfect single.

They were a British Invasion band every bit as good as The Beatles, Stones, Kinks and The Who. In their ranks, they had one of the greatest vocalists of the entire British Invasion in Colin Blunstone, who could be at once breathy and plaintive, and then gritty and soulful, sometimes in the same song.

Add to that, not one, but two inspired songwriters in Chris White and Rod Argent, whose compositional abilities made perfectly crafted ‘60s pop records, high on melody and infused with great harmonies. It was all held together by Argent’s jazz-infused piano and organ playing, the tasty and tuneful guitar work of Paul Atkinson, and the air-tight rhythm section of White on bass and Hugh Grundy on drums, providing a danceable and infectious back beat.

Yet their impact was far greater in the U.S. than at home where their very first single “She’s Not There” peaked at #12 on the British charts, but made it all the way to #2 on these shores. Its follow up, “Tell Her No,” climbed to #6 in the U.S., but didn’t even make it into the UK top 40.

“She’s Not There” was the group’s debut single which was recorded in one take after the band won studio time in a talent contest. The song makes its impact right from the onset with its folk infused introduction which was rare for early 1960s rock recordings. In the early 1970s, the song was re-recorded by Zombies vocalist Colin Bluestone under the name Neil McArthur. This version climbed to the #34 position of the UK charts, and it also charted again in 1977 by Santana from their Moonflower album. “Tell Her No,” on the flip, was later recorded by Juice Newton in 1983 who brought the song into the pop top thirty.

After a string of great single releases here and abroad including “What More Can I Do,” “I Love You,” “I Can’t Make Up Your Mind,” “Summertime,” “Goin’ Out Of My Head” and “Is This The Dream” that didn’t seem to ignite the imagination of the public, The Zombies released their final magnum opus album, Odessey and Oracle in 1968 and then called it quits.

But timing is everything…so it is somewhat ironic that the group’s biggest worldwide hit, “Time Of The Season,” happened after they disbanded. Odessey and Oracle wouldn’t have even received a release on these shores had it not been for Al Kooper who worked for the group’s U.S. label and convinced them that the album was worth a proper release. Even though the group was no longer together, the album’s release was accompanied by the “Time Of The Season” single which went on to become their biggest hit all over the world.

After the breakup, Rod Argent went on to form the group Argent with Chris White (who wrote songs for the group, but did not perform.) They scored a hit with “Hold Your Head Up” in 1972, and had the distinction of having both KISS and Christian rock group Petra cover their song, “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You.”

Colin Blunstone recorded many solo records, some with the help of his former band mates; he released three albums on Elton John’s Rocket Record Company label during the 1970s, and recorded vocals for The Alan Parsons Project albums Eye In The Sky and Ammonia Avenue. Throughout the years, Argent and Blunstone have toured many times together as a duo, or under the Zombies moniker performing hits from all phases of their intertwined careers. The definitive Zombies collection available today is Zombie Heaven, a four CD box set released by Ace Records in the U.K.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 2nd, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Zombies - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #37 – Jose Feliciano: “Light My Fire” b/w “California Dreamin’” – RCA Victor 45 RPM Single 47-9550 1968 (P4/Q4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #37 – Jose Feliciano: “Light My Fire” b/w “California Dreamin’” – RCA Victor 45 RPM Single 47-9550 1968 (P4/Q4)

Two songs from the 1960s that are unquestionably classics today…and Jose Feliciano had a hand in making them so…

The Doors’ “Light My Fire” topped the US charts in July of 1967, at the height of the Summer of Love. Along with Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” It became one of the most covered songs by bar bands of the late 1960s. A year later, the song found its way again on the pop charts peaking at the #3 position as covered by Jose Feliciano as the A-side of today’s single.

Song writer Robby Krieger said in an interview about the cover: “It’s really a great feeling to have written a classic. I think I owe a big debt to Jose Feliciano because he is actually the one, when he did it, everybody started doing it. He did a whole different arrangement on it.” (Wikipedia – James, Gary (1994). “Interview With Robby Krieger”. Classic Bands. Retrieved January 18, 2011.) Feliciano’s version won two 1969 Grammy Awards, for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist and firmly established him with the American record buying public.

The flip of today’s single is Feliciano’s take on The Mamas & Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” The also song made the rounds as another one of the most covered of its era including versions by Wes Montgomery, The Carpenters, The Four Tops, Melanie, Bobby Womack, Hugh Masekela, The Seekers, Raquel Welch, The Beach Boys , Wilson Phillips, and it still gets regularly licensed for use in film and commercials today.

Puerto Rican born Jose Feliciano was permanently blind from his birth in 1945. As a child he learned to play guitar at an early age and was influenced by classical guitarist Andres Segovia, jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and Ray Charles for his vocal skills.

Feliciano came up from the same fertile Greenwich Village folk ground as Bob Dylan, Fred Neil, John Sebastian and Joan Baez, and he signed with RCA Victor Records in 1964 to begin his long and legendary recording career. He was a virtuoso Latin guitarist whose early records ran the gamut from traditional Latin tunes and pop hits of the day performed in a crossover folk, pop, jazz and soul bag.

By 1967, Feliciano relocated to Los Angeles. He was already a household name in Latin America and RCA teamed him up with producer Rick Jarrod who had worked with Jefferson Airplane and Harry Nilsson to record the both sides of today’s classic single and the 1968 album Feliciano!

The album is one of the quintessential albums of the late sixties and features near definitive versions of often covered sixties classics including Gerry & The Pacemakers’ “Don’t Let The Sun Catch Your Crying,” Bacharach & David’s “Always Something There To Remind Me,” Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing On My Mind” and of course the requisite Beatles covers “In My Life,” “And I Love Her,” and “Here, There And Everywhere.”

Musicians on the record included José Feliciano on guitar, vocals, arrangements, Ray Brown on bass, jazz percussionist Milt Holland, Jim Horn on alto flute, recorder and Harry Nilsson’s production team of producer Rick Jarrod, George Tipton providing orchestration, string & woodwind arrangements and Perry Botkin Jr with song arrangements. The single and album were recorded in November 1967 and January 1968 at RCA Victor’s Hollywood studios.

By 1968, Feliciano’s superstardom from the Grammys, hit records and numerous TV appearances was short lived. Feliciano’s star fell quickly after performing an impassioned and very personal performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” before Game 5 of the 1968 World Series which proved very controversial to many Middle Americans who were never exposed to Latin music. As a result, radio stations stopped playing his records for several years after.

After scoring a surprise hit with his self-penned Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad” in 1970, his career seemed to stall in America, however he has constantly continued to be a strong draw in Latin American countries. During the 1960s and 1970s, he appeared on dozens of TV variety and came back in 1976 with his hit theme from the TV show Chico and the Man. He also composed music for the 1970s TV shows McMillan & Wife and Kung Fu.

Feliciano is a perennial of the summer shed circuit and continues to perform around the world today. His “Feliz Navidad” has become a regularly played as a Christmas holiday staple during the last months of every year. His latest release is a tribute album to Elvis Presley released in 2012 on the Select-O-Hit record label called The King.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: June 1st, 2015 under Folk, Jose Feliciano, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #36 – The Friends Of Distinction: “Grazing In The Grass” b/w “Going In Circles”

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #36 – The Friends Of Distinction: “Grazing In The Grass” b/w “Going In Circles” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL 04769 (M4/NL4)

Some of the world’s best-loved and biggest hits have their origin in afterthought…

“Grazing In The Grass” was originally an instrumental hit recorded by South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela that topped the charts in 1968. Masekela came to record the song after purchasing a cowbell-infused novelty record in Zambia called “Mr. Bull #5.” After turning in his debut album to UNI Records which was contractually short by three minutes, the label suggested he cover the single. While in the studio, actor and singer Philemon Hou came up with a new melody which became “Grazing In The Grass.”

Masekela thought little of the song, but included it on the album anyway to fulfill his contract. When UNI executive Russ Regan decided to release it as a single, Hugh Masekela became the first South African recording act to reach number one on the pop charts. (Fun fact: The guitarist on Masekela’s version of the song was Bruce Langhorne, who was the subject of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”) (songfacts.com)

The Friends of Distinction was a soul group from southern California that formed in 1968 around Harry Elston, Floyd Butler, Jessica Cleaves and Barbara Jean Love. Elston and Butler were members of The Hif-Fi’s, who warmed up for Ray Charles on tour, along with Marilyn McCoo and Lamont McLemore who went on to form The 5th Dimension. The group secured a recording contract with RCA Records after joining forces with ex-Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown who took on management of the group.

When Elston heard Masekela’s hit version of the song, he wrote lyrics to it for Friends Of Distinction to record. Their version hit #3 on the pop charts and #5 R&B.

The song has been covered by Stevie Wonder, Chet Atkins, Boney James and Meco, and has been featured in many films including Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Jackie Brown, I Shot Andy Warhol and I’m Gonna Get You Sucka.

The flip of today’s single is The Friends’ follow-up single “Going In Circles” which was also a million seller that climbed to #3 on the R&B charts and #15 pop in 1970. The slow jam heartbreak/coming-of-age song was written by Jerry Peters and Anita Poree and has been covered by The Gap Band, Isaac Hayes (on his Black Moses album) and Luther Vandross.

The story goes that after six albums and five years of hits including “Love or Let Me Be Lonely,” “Time Waits for No One,” and “I Need You,” The Friends Of Distinction broke up somewhat acrimoniously with Elston and Butler going separate ways to work outside of the music industry. By 1990 the legacy and influence of The Friends’ recordings had grown substantially. After not speaking to each other for many years, Elston and Butler agreed to work together again, however the reunion was short lived as Butler suffered from a heart attack and died in Elston’s arms. Elston reformed the group in 1996 with new members including Geno Henderson, Wendy Brune and Berlando Drake. They continue to tour and perform the music of The Friends of Distinction around the world today.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 31st, 2015 under Music, R'n'B/Soul, The Friends Of Distinction - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Jukebox Series #35 – Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man”

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #35 – Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man” b/w “The Time Is Now” – Bang 45 RPM Single 45 578 (K4/L4)

I’ve always been willing and able to give Neil Diamond a pass for syrupy hits like “September Morn,” “Heartlight,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and the many other middle of the road cringe-worthy songs that he cut during the 1980s, in exchange for the greatness of hits like “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Holly Holy,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “I Am…I Said,” “Song Sung Blue,” “Cherry Cherry,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Thank The Lord For The Night Time,” “I’m A Believer,” “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” and today’s jukebox classic, the sublime “Solitary Man.” How could you not?

“Solitary Man” was Neil Diamond’s first single as a recording artist after seeing success as a songwriter of hits for others around the Brill Building. Diamond was one of the first signees to the Bang record label which was formed in 1965 by Bert Berns, Ahmet Ertegun, Neshui Ertegun and Jerry (Gerald) Wexler. (Their first initials gave the label its name.) Some of Berns’ other early signings on the label were The Strangeloves (“I Want Candy”), The McCoys (“Hang On Sloopy”) and Van Morrison (“Brown Eyed Girl”).

“Solitary Man” was produced by Diamond’s Brill Building cohorts Jeff Barrie and Ellie Greenwich and it was a minor hit when released as a single in 1966 climbing to #50 on the pop singles charts. After signing with UNI Records and having more mainstream success, the song was re-released as a single by Bang in 1970 and it charted again at #21.

Neil Diamond: “Solitary Man was my first song where I tried to really raise the level of my songwriting. It was inspired by the Beatles’ song ‘Michelle,’ which was also written in a minor key. I don’t think I’d ever written a song in a minor key before, it was the first and it kind of broke the dam for me.” (Mojo) It was also an early example of Diamond looking inside to write more personal material about himself. Diamond: “After four years of Freudian analysis I realized I had written ‘Solitary Man’ about myself.” (Pete Paphides from The Times.)

The song was the lead track on Diamond’s debut album for Bang called The Feel Of Neil Diamond. The album included several original compositions including “Cherry Cherry,” “Do It” and “Oh No No (I’ve Got A Feelin’),” plus covers of “Hanky Panky,” “Red Rubber Ball,” “Monday Monday” and “La Bamba.”

The song has been covered by Johnny Cash, Cliff Richard, Chris Isaak, T.G. Sheppard (who scored a #14 Country hit with the song in 1976), Billy Joe Royal, Johnny Rivers, Jay And The Americans, The Sidewinders, B.J. Thomas, the metal band HIM (who took the song into the UK top ten) and many others.

Diamond was one of Bang Records’ early success stories, but he left the label and signed to UNI records because he felt that Berns was holding him back artistically by not releasing his introspective song “Shilo” as a single. After Berns died suddenly in December of 1967, his wife took control of the label and she took to releasing older Diamond song as singles in order to compete with his latest output for UNI. And wouldn’t you know it that one of the singles she released was “Shilo,” which climbed into the top forty.

The flip of today’s single was one of two B-sides that graced the “Solitary Man” single. The original 1966 issue of the single featured the track “Do It” on the flip; the 1970 rerelease featured the bluesy “The Time Is Now.”

The Neil Diamond we hear on “The Time Is Now” isn’t the syrupy sweet balladeer of “Heartlight” and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” nor is it the fun-loving Brill building party boy of “Cherry Cherry.” Instead, we get a rough-cut Diamond totally ensconced in the blues.

Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, he was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2011.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 28th, 2015 under Easy Listening, Music, Neil Diamond - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Jukebox Series #34 – Dusty Springfield: “The Look Of Love”

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #34 – Dusty Springfield: “The Look Of Love” b/w “All I See Is You” – 45 RPM Single 45 (I4/J4)

Her voice was smooth, and her delivery was as sultry as it comes. While she was a much bigger star in her native England, Dusty Springfield sent numerous singles up the charts on these shores as well, including “I Only Want To Be With You” (#12/1963), “Wishin’ And Hopin’” (#6/1963), “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” (#3/1964 UK), “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” (#4/1966), “Son Of A Preacher Man (#10/1969), “The Windmills Of Your Mind” (#31/1969) and “What Have I Done To Deserve This” with The Pet Shop Boys (#2/1987).

She was also credited with introducing the Motown Sound to English music fans by helming a special edition of the British music TV show Ready Steady Go!, that featured the first UK TV appearances by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, The Temptations, The Supremes, the Miracles and Stevie Wonder. She also covered her share of Motown hits for consumption by the UK market and some of her versions were more popular than the originals.

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (aka Dusty Springfield) got her start as a member of the “sister” act The Lana Sisters performing on TV and as part of shows on military bases around the UK. From there, she joined the family folk group called The Springfields with her brothers Tom and Tim who were best known by their recording of “Silver Threads And Golden Needles.”

Today’s jukebox classic is one of Dusty Springfield’s signature hits, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the James Bond film parody Casino Royale. The song was originally intended to be an instrumental until David wrote lyrics to the song. It was nominated for Best Song in the 1968 Grammy Awards. Springfield recorded the song twice. Her first recording was released on Colgems Records on the soundtrack to the film Casino Royale.

Burt Bacharach: “When I’m scoring a picture, whether it’s Butch Cassidy or Casino Royale or What’s New Pussycat?, all those melodies that turned into what became hit songs came from what I saw on the screen when I was scoring and what I heard. The first thing is you service the motion picture. If you’re lucky enough and you have a theme that turns into a hit whether it was Dusty (Springfield) singing ‘The Look Of Love’ in Casino Royale, what was most important there was the sexuality of Ursula Andress wearing very little clothes and making very sexy theme with the saxophone playing the melody of ‘The Look Of Love.’ Then we put Dusty on. First and foremost is it’s written for the picture, you don’t force it in.” (Record Collector via Songfacts)

Springfield then rerecorded the song for the Philips label in 1967, where it was relegated to the B-side of her “Give Me Time” single. It also appeared on The Look Of Love album, which was her last U.S. album for Philips Records in 1967 before signing with Atlantic and releasing the landmark Dusty In Memphis record. (Tracks for her last Philips album entitled Dusty Definitely in England were not released in America until the 1990s, and then they were released under the title Dusty In London.)

The song has been covered by a myriad of artists including Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 (whose version charted at #4 on the pop charts), Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Isaac Hayes, Ahmad Jamal, Claudine Longet, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Dionne Warwick, Andy Williams, The Delfonics, Tony Joe White, The Meters, The Vanilla Fudge, The Zombies, Diana Krall (whose recording made it into the top ten of the Canadian charts), Anita Baker and literally dozens more.

The flip is Springfield’s 1966 single “All I See Is You”, written by Ben Weisman & Carl Westlake, which also reached the US Top 20.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 26th, 2015 under Dusty Springfield, Easy Listening, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Buckets Of Rain” by Bette Midler with Bob Dylan

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Buckets Of Rain” by Bette Midler with Bob Dylan

Here’s one for Bob Dylan’s birthday…

Today’s Song of the Day is a great Bette Midler/Bob Dylan duet from Midler’s 1976 album Songs For The New Depression. The session came about because Dylan had hoped Midler would join him on the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour with an eye towards her being a part of his four-hour Renaldo and Clara movie which was filmed on the tour.

The duo’s original intention was to cut a new version of Moogy Klingman’s song “Friends” that Midler had recorded on her The Divine Miss M album several years earlier. When that didn’t work out, they worked up this rough and ready version of a song that was from Dylan’s then-current Blood on the Tracks album.

While there’s no topping Dylan’s own version of the song, I’ve always thought this one had a lot of personality and it sounds like they were both having a hoot recording it. Dylan and Midler would find themselves together in the studio one more during the USA For Africa sessions in the 1980s for the charity record of “We Are The World.”

Posted: May 25th, 2015 under Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Easy Listening, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #33 – Unit 4+2: “Concrete And Clay” b/w “When I Fall In Love” – London 45 RPM Single 45-LON-9754 (G4/H4)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #33 – Unit 4+2: “Concrete And Clay” b/w “When I Fall In Love” – London 45 RPM Single 45-LON-9754 (G4/H4)

Today’s song is a somewhat forgotten British Invasion classic from 1965, featuring future members of The Kinks and Argent amongst its band members.

Unit 4 was a British harmony vocal group that was started in the early 1960s by Brian Parker who was a member of Adam Faith’s backing band The Roulettes. Parker set out to form his own band and recruited Buster Meikle on vocals and guitar, Tommy Moeller on vocals and piano and Peter Moules on bass. Soon thereafter, they added two more members, Rod Garwood (bass) and Hugh Halliday (drums) who became the “+2” of their namesake. Their first British single was “The Green Fields” which was a top 50 hit in 1964.

By 1965, they were joined by two guest musicians, Bob Henrit who later went on to become a member of The Kinks and Russ Ballard who was a founding member of Argent. Both had worked with Parker and were also members of The Roulettes. Henrit and Ballard later joined Unit 4 + 2 as full members in 1967.

Their 1965 single, “Concrete And Clay” topped the British charts due to its inclusion on pirate radio playlists. In America, Unit 4 + 2’s recording of the song competed on the charts with a rival version by singer and Bob Crewe protégé Eddie Rambeau. Rambeau’s version climbed to number 35 on the charts, while Unit 4 + 2’s made it up to number 28. Both recordings kind of cancelled each other out, so neither was able to attain the attention that it should have.

A full length album was rush-recorded and released to capitalize on the success of the single in England, but the material was lacking and attempts to find a suitable follow up single failed to catch fire on the charts. As time went on, the band delved into psychedelic music as they strived to keep up with the ever changing times. During the late 60s, the group with Henrit and Ballard now full members recorded a version of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” that failed to compete well with the more successful version by The Byrds.

“Concrete” was covered by Gary Lewis And The Playboys, Cliff Richard, Martin Plaza (of the group Mental As Anything) who brought the song to the #2 position on the Australian charts in 1986, Randy Edelman who brought the song to #20 on the UK charts in 1976, Kevin Rowland (of Dexy’s Midnight Runners) and They Might Be Giants.

The flip of today’s single is a cover of the Victor Young and Edward Heyman standard “When I Fall In Love” which was popularized by Nat “King” Cole and hundreds of other pop vocalists. The group’s cover puts them more into the category of easy listening artists like The Lettermen.

All in all, Unit 4 + 2 released 16 singles and two albums in England between 1964 and 1969. The song was rerecorded by songwriter and original vocalist, Tommy Moeller for a UK album in 2011. Moeller was also known as the public face of another British one-hit wonder, Whistling Jack Smith who had a number five whistling hit with “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman.” In the U.S. Unit 4+2 are barely remembered for this one great track, which to my ears sounds like a prequel to today’s faux folk groups like Mumford And Sons and The Lumineers.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 20th, 2015 under Music, Rock, Unit 4 + 2 - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #32 – The Trashmen: “Surfin’ Bird” b/w The Castaways “Liar Liar” – Eric 45 RPM Single 247 (E4/F4)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #32 – The Trashmen: “Surfin’ Bird” b/w The Castaways “Liar Liar” – Eric 45 RPM Single 247 (E4/F4)

Today’s jukebox classic is a near-perfect pairing of two garage rock classics by two different artists on one solid 45 RPM record (and on the Eric label, no less). One side gives us the stompin’ “Surfin’ Bird,” a song that set ‘60s frat parties into motion by The Trashmen. It is paired with another garage classic on the flip, The Castaways’ one-hit wonder “Liar Liar,” in all its primal glory.

The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” was itself an amalgam of two other hits originally by The Rivingtons, one being “Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow,” and the other, “The Bird Is The Word.” The Trashmen took the chorus to both Rivington songs and strung them together to make this nonsensical garage rock classic. When the record came out, the songwriting was credited to the group’s singer and drummer Steve Wahrer whose idea it was to string the two songs together. After legal representatives from The Rivingtons’ camp contacted The Trashmen, later copies of the single gave The Rivingtons sole writing credit of the song.

The Trashmen formed in Minneapolis in 1962 and consisted of Tony Andreason on lead guitar and vocals, Dal Winslow on guitar and vocals, Steve Wahrer on drums and vocals and Bob Reed on bass guitar. Along with “Surfin’ Bird,” they placed five other singles in the charts including “Bird Dance Beat” which climbed to #30 in 1964.

The song has been covered by the likes of The Ramones, Silverchair, The Cramps and Pee Wee Herman who sang it in the movie Back To The Beach. It has also been awarded screen time in the movies E.T., Full Metal Jacket and in John Waters’ classic cult film Pink Flamingoes.

Most recently, the song was used in a 2009 episode of Family Guy which brought the track back to the #50 position on UK singles charts, and #10 on the iTunes chart. It was also the subject of a Facebook campaign to send the song up the UK charts in 2010 in order to keep the winner of X-Factor off the top of the charts during the Christmas season. The campaign resulted in the song’s highest chart position of #3. The group broke up in 1967, but reformed in the 1980s and have toured on and off in some form ever since.

On the flip of today’s double A-sided single is another garage classic, “Liar Liar” by the one-hit-wonder garage rock group The Castaways. The Castaways were also from Minnesota and consisted of James Donna on keyboards, Robert Folschow and Dick Roby on guitar, Roy Hensley on bass and Dennis Craswell on drums.

The group formed to play frat parties where today’s song became popular enough to allow the group to record and release the track on the Soma record label. It is Folschow’s falsetto that is heard on the single which climbed up to the #12 position of the singles charts in 1965. The group became so popular on the heels of this song, that they performed it in the 1967 beach movie It’s A Bikini World.

The song was also used in the films Good Morning Vietnam and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and was covered by Debbie Harry of Blondie in 1988 for the film Married To The Mob. Harry’s version climbed to #14 on the Modern Rock charts. The group still exists today with James Donna the only original member.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 19th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Castaways, The Trashmen - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #31 – The Isley Brothers: “That Lady (Part 1)” b/w “That Lady (Part 2)” – T-Neck 45 RPM Single 2251 (A4/B4V3)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #31 – The Isley Brothers: “That Lady (Part 1)” b/w “That Lady (Part 2)” – T-Neck 45 RPM Single 2251 (A4/B4V3)

From gossamer to “grit-tay”…the other day I featured a satiny-smooth jukebox classic by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles…today we’re going gritty with this funky 1973 track by The Isley Brothers.

They were one of the longest running R&B groups of all time forming in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959 and recording and touring together in some form through 2010.

The Isley’s were responsible for such indelible hits as “Shout,” “Twist And Shout,” “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You),” “Black Berries,” “It’s Your Thing,” “Pop That Thang,” “Love The One You’re With,” “Summer Breeze,” “Fight The Power,” “Harvest For The World,” plus many others. Today’s Song Of The Day comes from their 1973 album called 3+3.

The album’s title alludes to the fact that the three original members of the group, Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly Isley, made their brother-in-law Chris Jasper and brothers Ernie and Marvin Isley, the other 3, full time members of the group.

The album became their first platinum album, selling over one million copies. Along with “That Lady,” two other tracks from the album made waves on the R&B charts including their cover of Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” (#10 R&B) and “What It Comes Down To” (#5 R&B). The group also covered Jonathan Edwards’ hit “Sunshine” and James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” for the album.

“That Lady” was originally recorded by The Isley’s back in 1964 under the title “Who’s That Lady.” That version was cut at a slower tempo and was driven by a spare staccato drum pattern, a roller-rink organ part and a full-blown horn section. The group decided to record the song again after Santana covered it on their Spirits Dancing in the Flesh album.

At first, Ronald Isley was against cutting the track again, however the rest of the group convinced him that the arrangement would be much different and it would highlight the guitar work of brother Ernie. Ernie’s guitar playing was informed by the Isley Brothers’ association with Jimi Hendrix who played with the group in 1964. Hendrix can be heard on the group’s “Testify” and “Move On Over And Let Me Dance” singles. The song became their first top-ten hit since 1969’s “It’s Your Thing,” climbing to #2 on both the Pop and R&B charts. Brother Ernie’s guitar solo was later sampled by The Beastie Boys on the track “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” from Paul’s Boutique.

Another distinction about today’s jukebox classic is that it is one in a long line of two-part singles. When 45 RPM singles ruled, it was customary to break longer tracks into two parts for the single release. The Isley Brothers were no stranger to the two-part single, and as far back as 1959, “Shout” was released as a two-parter. Many of James Brown’s singles were released in the two-part format including “Say It Loud (I’m Black And I’m Proud,)” “Get Up I Feel Like Being A Sex Machine,” and “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag.” Other notable two-part singles include Joey Dee’s “The Peppermint Twist,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Suzie Q,” Don McLean’s “American Pie,” Eddie Kendricks’ “Keep On Truckin’,” George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby,” Rick James’ “Super Freak,” Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” and Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane.” What other two-part singles can you think of?

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 18th, 2015 under Music, R'n'B/Soul, The Isley Brothers - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #30 – Ricky Nelson: “Stood Up” b/w “Waitin’ In School” – Imperial 45 RPM Single X5483 (U3/V3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #30 – Ricky Nelson: “Stood Up” b/w “Waitin’ In School” – Imperial 45 RPM Single X5483 (U3/V3)

Growing up in public must be very hard to pull off gracefully. And for every artist who has achieved some semblance of normality in the public eye, there are dozens whose lives were ruined by it. Ricky Nelson managed, but just barely…

Nelson’s father Ozzie was a big band leader and his wife Harriet, a big band vocalist who supported Red Skelton on his popular radio show. When Skelton was drafted in 1944, his producer John Guedel created a radio show around the couple and their family called The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet. The Nelson’s children were first played on the radio series by professional child actors until Dave and Ricky (aged 12 and 8 respectively) joined the show on February 20, 1949.

Ricky didn’t have any inkling to make records until telling a girl he was trying to impress that he was going into the studio to cut his first record. At the time, he didn’t have a record contract, but he did have connections. Ricky’s father arranged for him to record Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’” for Verve records in 1957. Crucially, he then lip-synched the song on the TV show before the single came out, resulting in a #4 hit on the Billboard charts. Its flip side “A Teenager’s Romance” climbed all the way to #2 after he also performed it on the show. Nelson was one of the few fortunate artists who had a built in mechanism to get his songs heard by a mass audience through exposure on the family show which ran on TV from 1952 through 1966.

After this success, Ozzie negotiated a long-term deal with Imperial Records for Ricky that gave him approval of what songs he would record and final say over sleeve artwork, which was unheard of at the time. His first single for the new label “Be Bop Baby” went on to sell over a million copies. While on Imperial, he scored hits with “Poor Little Fool” (#1 Pop/#3 Country), “Lonesome Town” (#7 Pop), “It’s Late” (#9 Pop), “Never Be Anyone Else But You” (#6 Pop), “Just A Little Too Much” (#9 Pop), “Sweeter Than You” (#9 Pop), “Travelin’ Man” (#1 Pop), “Hello Mary Lou” (#9 Pop), “Young World” (#5 Pop), “Teen Age Idol” (#5 Pop) and “For You” (#6 Pop), mostly propelled by his performances of the songs on TV.

From 1957 to 1962, Nelson scored 30 Top-40 hits, more than any other artist except Elvis Presley who had 53, and Pat Boone with 38. For some, Nelson was the consummate teen idol with dreamy good looks and a smooth voice that sugar-coated the numerous gooey ballads he committed to wax. But today’s double shot of rockabilly illustrates that Nelson was so much more than just a teen idol. He was a way-out rockin’ cat whose backing band was also one of the hottest in the land.

Early in his recording career, Nelson became fed up with the contemptuous attitude toward rock and roll of the jazz musicians his father chose for him to record with. In 1957 he formed one of the sturdiest bands of all time. He didn’t have to look far for his guitarist since his 18 year old friend James Burton was already living in his home. With the nimble-fingered Burton and his distinctive sound on electric guitar, he added James Kirkland on bass, Richie Frost on drums and Gene Garf on piano. Elvis Presley’s backup vocalists, The Jordanaires were also featured on Nelson’s recordings but they were not credited at Presley’s request.

Today’s jukebox classic features two rockabilly blasts from 1958. The A-side “Stood Up,” climbed all the way to the #2 slot on the pop charts, while its flip, “Waitin’ In School,” which was written by Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, rose to #18.

In 1963, Nelson signed a long-term deal with Decca Records. His Decca era produced some solidly great albums and singles, although his standing on the charts was dismal. As the 1960s came to a close, you pretty much could not give a Rick Nelson record away. Things were so bad that Nelson began performing shows on the oldies circuit at county fairs.

His last big single was “Garden Party” from 1972, which was about being an artist on the oldies circuit before his time. While performing at Madison Square Garden as part of a multi-act oldies bill, Nelson’s penchant for performing new material was met with boos from the audience. Disgusted by his audience’s expectations, he wrote “Garden Party” which when released climbed to #6 on the Billboard charts and topped the Adult Contemporary charts.

Nelson died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1985. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 17th, 2015 under Music, Rick Nelson, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #29 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “I’ll Try Something New” b/w “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” – Collectables 45 RPM Single MOT-00505 (S3/T3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #29 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: “I’ll Try Something New” b/w “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” – Collectables 45 RPM Single MOT-00505 (S3/T3)

Before The Miracles, before Berry Gordy and before Motown, a talented singer and aspiring songwriter named William Robinson formed a group called The Matadors. The Matadors consisted of Bobby Rogers, Ronnie White, Warren Moore and Claudette Rogers.

They met a hungry promoter named Berry Gordy who had his first taste of success by writing the Jackie Wilson hit “Reet Petite.” The Matadors auditioned for Gordy who liked the group, especially their lead singer. When Williams told Gordy that he could write songs, the two sat down and wrote an answer record to The Silhouettes’ 1958 hit “Get A Job,” and called it “Got A Job.”

Gordy thought the name, The Matadors, was far to masculine for a group that featured a vocalist like William Robinson and also a female vocalist, so he changed their name to The Miracles. Gordy negotiated a release of the record on the independent End record label in 1958 and it became a minor hit.

With the money earned from the hit record, Gordy went on to found the Motown record label making Robinson the vice-president…so you may say that both Gordy and Smokey Robinson (as he became known) “Got A Job” with the release of the record of the same name.

The Miracles consisted of Smokey Robinson on lead vocal, Claudette Rogers Robinson (his wife) on backing vocal, Pete Moore on backing vocal, Ronnie White on backing vocal, Bobby Rogers on co-lead vocal and backing vocal, Marv Tarplin on guitar with all other instruments performed by The Funk Brothers.

Songs don’t come any more romantic than the top side of today’s double A-sided single! The first thing that grabs you is the angelic, echo-laden production sound of “I’ll Try Something New” with its elaborate and plush bed of strings. If that doesn’t automatically get your attention, then Robinson’s gossamer vocals are sure to woo even the most hardened heart. (Note: For the ultimate in greatness, check out his soulful vocals during this record’s fade.)

The song was one of The Miracles early singles from 1962 and was also the title track to their third album. Upon its release, it climbed to the #11 position on the R&B charts and settled at #39 on the pop list. In 1969, the song was released as a single by The Supremes and The Temptations together that climbed to #25 on the pop charts and #8 R&B. It was also covered by the disco group A Taste Of Honey in 1982.

The flip of today’s single was a much bigger hit for The Miracles topping the R&B charts and climbing all the way to #8 on the pop list while selling a million copies. “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” is deservedly in the Grammy Hall Of Fame and also holds the distinction of being covered by The Beatles on their second album.

The song was written by Smokey Robinson for his wife (and group member) Claudette after hearing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” on the radio while on a business trip in New York City. When originally released, it was relegated to the B-side of the song “Happy Landing,” however DJs flipped the record and liked it much better. Both songs appeared on The Miracles second album The Fabulous Miracles released in 1963.

The Beatles first heard the song after finding an imported copy from the U.S. and it quickly became a staple of their early live repertoire. It was recorded for their second album WithThe Beatles (in the U.K.) and The Beatles’ Second Album (in the U.S.) featuring an indelible lead vocal by John Lennon.

The Beatles re-recorded the song after EMI acquired their first four track recording equipment; however that version was deemed no better than the original and remains unreleased to this day. They also recorded it four times for broadcast on BBC radio. The song can also be heard in the 1970 Let It Be and it was also featured in a live version from Stockholm, Sweden in October 1963 on the Anthology 1 album.

The Beatles covered several Motown songs early in their career, including “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Please Mr. Postman,” because Berry Gordy gave the group reduced rates as an enticement since they were such a big recording act. The song has also been covered by a myriad of artists including The Supremes, The Temptations, The Zombies, The Jackson 5, Mickey Gilley (#2 Country Hit), Phil Collins, Mike + The Mechanics and She & Him.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 13th, 2015 under Music, R'n'B/Soul, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #28 – Average White Band: “Pick Up The Pieces” b/w “Work To Do” – Atlantic 45 RPM Single 45-3229 (Q3/R3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #28 – Average White Band: “Pick Up The Pieces” b/w “Work To Do” – Atlantic 45 RPM Single 45-3229 (Q3/R3)

“TSOP” by MFSB, “Love’s Theme” by The Love Unlimited Orchestra, “Space Race” by Billy Preston, “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter Group, “Popcorn” by Hot Butter,” “Joy” by Apollo 100, “Rock And Roll” by Gary Glitter, “Dueling Banjos” by Eric Weissberg & Deliverance, “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, “The Hustle” by Van McCoy, “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango, “Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione, “Scorpio” by Dennis Coffey and “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield – the 1970s had its share of some of the greatest instrumental hits of all time. While many of these tracks are truly not instrumentals because they either have wordless singing or minor vocal parts consisting of the title being shouted out several times over the duration of the song, they are still rightly classified as instrumental hits.

Today’s jukebox classic stands taller than most on the above list of ‘70s instrumentals. With its propulsive disco beat and infectious horn part, “Pick up the Pieces” managed to set throngs of dancers into motion on disco dance floors around the world.

But it wasn’t always that way…When “Pick up the Pieces” was originally released as a single in the U.K. in 1974; it sank without a trace, completely failing to chart. Three months later, the single came out in the U.S. where it sold a million copies and climbed to the top of the charts. It was then rereleased as a single in the U.K. and it rose to the top five. Not to dis our friends across the pond, but what were they thinking the first time around…

The song crossed over into the disco charts and also spawned an answer record recorded by James Brown’s backing band The J.B.s, called “One By One.” On the record, the J.B.s are credited as AABB, or the Above Average Black Band in homage to AWB. It was also sampled by the likes of The Beastie Boys, TLC, Too Short, Ice Cube, Eric B. & Rakim, Nas, Arrested Development and A Tribe Called Quest.

The Average White Band originated in Scotland in 1971 and consisted of Allan Gorrie (bass, guitar and vocals), Malcolm Duncan (tenor sax), Onnie McIntyre (vocals, rhythm guitar), Michael Rosen (trumpet), Roger Ball (keyboards and sax) and Robbie McIntosh (drums) and Hamsih Stuart (guitar, bass and vocals).

Even though one of the group’s earliest gigs was as a support act to Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert in 1973, when their debut album Show Your Hand was released on MCA Records the same year, it sold poorly. For their second album, the group relocated to Los Angeles and signed with Atlantic Records.

The album, titled AWB was produced by Arif Mardin and ultimately topped the U.S. album charts on the heels of its chart-topping single. It was also known to AWB fans as The White Album as it featured stunning graphics on a white background that gave the band its memorable logo.

At the height of their initial fame, tragedy struck when drummer and founding member Robbie McIntosh died of a heroin overdose at a party in 1974. Allan Gorrie also overdosed at the same party, but Cher kept him conscious until medics arrived and he survived. Such was the “swinging” party scene of mid-70s Los Angeles. As a result, McIntosh was replaced by Steve Ferrone.

The band continued to release albums well into the 1980s (including a duo album with Ben E. King on vocals), and scored several hit singles including “Cut The Cake” (#31/1974), “Queen Of My Soul” (#23/1976) and “Let’s Go Round Again” (#12/1980). By the early 1980s, Ferrone left the group to work with Duran Duran, while Hamish Stuart went on to tour and record with Paul McCartney.

The group still exists today with McIntyre and Gorrie still on board. Their last album was a live album called Times Squared, released in 2009. The flip of today’s single is an exceptional cover of The Isley Brothers’ top twenty R&B hit “Work To Do,” which was also covered by The Main Ingredient and Vanessa Williams.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 12th, 2015 under Average White Band, Music, R'n'B/Soul, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #27 – Arthur Alexander: “Anna (Go To Him)” b/w “You Better Move On” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL-3375 (N3/P3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #27 – Arthur Alexander: “Anna (Go To Him)” b/w “You Better Move On” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL-3375 (N3/P3)

He’s the only artist to be covered by the holy quartet of Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. Others who rushed to his deep well of first-rate copyrights included The Hollies, Ry Cooder, Pearl Jam, Ike & Tina Turner, Marshall Crenshaw, George Jones, Otis Redding, The Bee Gees, Humble Pie, and Dusty Springfield, and that’s only a small sampling of those who have recorded his tunes.

Yet, Arthur Alexander, the man who wrote such classics as “Soldier Of Love (Lay Down Your Arms),” “Sally Sue Brown,” “Detroit City,” “A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues” and the two songs on today’s jukebox single, remains largely unknown to most people today, or even worse, totally forgotten.

The A-side of today’s double-A-sided jukebox single was originally written, recorded and released as a single on the Dot label by Alexander in 1962. Alexander’s version charted at #68 on the pop charts, while climbing to #10 on the R&B lists. The song is notable because it was covered by The Beatles for their debut album Please Please Me. It was a favorite of John Lennon’s and became part of the group’s early live repertoire. Lennon had a bad cold during the marathon session that produced their first album, which accounts for the roughness of his voice on “Anna.”

If Alexander’s recordings weren’t enough to guarantee him legendary status, he, along with Donnie Fritts, Rick Hall and Tom Stafford, converted a dilapidated tobacco warehouse in Alabama into a recording studio, and launched the famed Muscle Shoals Studios with his first single “You Better Move On” in the early 1960s. Alexander’s original version of the song charted at #24 on the pop charts in 1962 and sold 800,000 copies making it possible for Muscle Shoals to relocate its facilities to 603 East Avalon Avenue. The backing musicians on the track included Dan Penn, Tommy Roe (of “Dizzy” fame) and Joe Tex.

The song was also covered by The Rolling Stones, The Hollies, The Moody Blues, Dean Martin, Johnny Rivers, Billy “Crash” Craddock (whose version was a #10 country hit), Mink DeVille and George Jones and Johnny Paycheck (whose duo version peaked at #18 on the country charts).

The music business was a tricky proposition then as it is now, and fame and fortune largely alluded him, but not for lack of trying. After a string of seminal southern soul recordings that made others rich and famous, Alexander moved from record label to record label releasing a series of albums and singles throughout the sixties and seventies that garnered little or no airplay, including an eponymously titled album for Warner Brothers in 1972 and the 1975 minor hit single “Every Day I Have To Cry” for Buddah Records.

From 1977 through 1992, Alexander dropped out of the music industry completely and drove a van for senior citizens. After being inducted into the Alabama Music Hall Of Fame, he came back to music and recorded his last record, Lonely Just Like Me for Elektra records in 1993. Sadly days after launching his comeback with a new band, Alexander died of a heart attack.

For further listening, check out The Ultimate Arthur Alexander for his original recordings, and the tribute album Adios Amigo: A Tribute To Arthur Alexander featuring covers of his songs by the likes of Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, Roger McGuinn, Nick Lowe, John Prine and Frank Black. Both CDs were issued by Razor & Tie music.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 11th, 2015 under Arthur Alexander, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #26 – Dionne Warwick: “Knowing When To Leave” b/w “Make It Easy On Yourself” – Scepter 45 RPM Single SCE-12294 (L3/M3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #26 – Dionne Warwick: “Knowing When To Leave” b/w “Make It Easy On Yourself” – Scepter 45 RPM Single SCE-12294 (L3/M3)

The great thing about having a jukebox is that you get to decide what the A-side of the single will be by the way you place the single into its slot. Case in point is today’s jukebox classic. I bought the single specifically for “Knowing When To Leave” which is technically the B-side. The real A-side is a live version of “Make It Easy On Yourself,” but not in my jukebox.

“Walk On By,” “Anyone Who Had A Heart,” “You’ll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart),” “Message To Michael,” “Alfie,” “”Do You Know The Way To San Jose,” “I Say A Little Prayer” — the list goes on and on, making an argument for the notion that the songwriting partnership of Burt Bacharach and Hal David was one of the most important in the history of pop music on par with Lennon and McCartney. Add the sophisticated stylings of Dionne Warwick into the mix and you got recordings that resulted in pure pop perfection.

It was a marriage made in heaven, but soon after this recording, the marriage would dissolve into lawsuits and acrimony.

But for now, things were good. Bacharach and David were coming off of their 1968 hit Broadway musical Promises, Promises which was based on Neil Simon’s film The Apartment. The musical ran for 1,281 performances and featured several hit songs (all recorded by Warwick) including the title hit, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again,” “Wanting Things” and today’s Song of the Day, “Knowing When To Leave.”

After recording her 1968 album, also titled Promises, Promises, with Bacharach and David, Warwick went to Memphis where she recorded an album of soul covers called Soulful with Chips Moman. So the time was ripe for Warwick to return to her winning partnership with Bacharach and David, which they did for the 1970 album, I’ll Never Fall In Love Again.

The reunion of Warwick with Bacharach and David resulted in their last great album together, it would also be one of the last albums Warwick would record for Scepter Records where she spent the entirety of her career up to that point. The album featured a clutch of some of the writing team’s greatest songs including “Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets,” “The Wine Is Young,” “Paper Mache,” “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” and today’s song. Added to the album’s tune stack was Warwick’s own version of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” plus covers of George Harrison’s “Something,” Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” and Paul Anka’s “My Way.”

The album’s title song was originally a last minute addition to the musical Promises, Promises. “’I’ll Never Fall In Love Again’ was written quicker than any song that I ever wrote with Hal. I had just gotten out of the hospital. I’d been on the road and gotten pneumonia. We were on the road with Promises, Promises and we’d try to get this song written and into the show the next night or two nights later. That’s where Hal’s line came from, ‘what do you do when you kiss a girl, you get enough germs to catch pneumonia, after you do she’ll never phone ya.’ So having been in the hospital for five days with pneumonia, I got out and struggled to write that song feeling not too great.” – Burt Bacharach (Record Collector)

After the release of this album, Warwick signed a lucrative contract with Warner Bros. Records. Her new contract specified that subsequent recording would be made with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s involvement. Their first album for the label, titled Dionne was a minor hit, only landing at #57 on the album charts.

At the time, Bacharach and David had just wrapped their first film musical Lost Horizon which when released was a colossal flop resulting in the bitter dissolution of the two writers’ songwriting partnership. This left Warwick in a precarious position with Warner Bros. facing the prospect of a breach of contract law suit. As a result, she was forced to sue Burt Bacharach and Hal David for breach of contract, ending their partnership as well.

It would be many years before Warwick would work again with Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

The true A-side to today’s jukebox classic is Dionne Warwick’s live recording of “Make It Easy On Yourself.” The Bacharach-David song was originally a hit for Jerry Butler in 1962. The song made it into the pop top twenty and reached #18 on the R&B charts. Butler originally heard the song from a demo featuring Warwick’s vocal. Warwick was under the impression that the song would be her debut single, but Scepter Records honcho Florence Greenberg rejected that idea and gave the song to Butler.

A very disappointed Warwick balked at Bacharach and David’s assurance that they would give her a song to record every bit as good as “Make It Easy On Yourself” by telling them “Don’t make me over, man.” Bacharach took her rebuke and wrote the song “Don’t Make Me Over” which ultimately became Warwick’s debut single. Warwick’s demo recording of “Make It Easy On Yourself” became an album track on her 1963 debut album called Presenting Dionne Warwick.

Warwick would later return to the song with a live single version in 1970 recorded at the Garden State Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. The concert version of the song peaked at #2 on the easy listening charts while climbing to #37 on the pop charts.

The Walker Brothers topped the UK charts with their version of the song in 1965, although it only climbed to #16 on the U.S. pop charts. The song was also covered by The Carpenters (as part of a Bacharach medley), Johnny Mathis, Cilla Black, Tony Bennett, Glen Campbell, The Four Seasons, Sarah Vaughan, Long John Baldry and Rick Astley.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 10th, 2015 under Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Dionne Warwick, Easy Listening, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #25 – Barbara Lewis – “Hello Stranger” b/w “Baby I’m Yours” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL-3105 (I3/J3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #25 – Barbara Lewis – “Hello Stranger” b/w “Baby I’m Yours” – Collectables 45 RPM Single COL-3105 (I3/J3)

The magic in today’s track lies in Lewis’ feathery-light delivery atop the heavenly harmonious shoo-bop-shoo-bops in the background, and one of the all-time greatest roller-rink Hammond organ introductions ever on record. It’s no wonder that “Hello Stranger” climbed to #3 on the pop charts and topped the R&B charts in 1963.

During a time when most recording artists were told what to record, especially if they were women, Barbara Lewis wrote almost all of the songs on her debut album also called Hello Stranger. The hit title song was recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago with backup vocals provided by The Dells. Inspiration for the song came from performing shows with her musician father. Lewis: ““I would make the circuit with my dad and people would yell out: ‘Hey stranger, hello stranger, it’s been a long time’”. (Complete Atlantic Singles liner notes.)

Lewis’ soul classic has spawned numerous covers over the years. Yvonne Elliman topped the easy listening charts and brought the song into the top-twenty of the pop charts in 1977, Carrie Lucas charted in the R&B top twenty in 1985, The Capitols’ version gained wide exposure as the B-side to their hit single “Cool Jerk,” and Martha And The Vandellas, The Supremes & The Four Tops (together) and Queen Latifah have also given the song a go in the studio.

The flip of today’s reissue single is “Baby I’m Yours,” which was written by Van McCoy. McCoy is best known for the disco smash, “The Hustle” which topped of the charts in 1975, and it is his voice that is heard on the track as part of the choir. Lewis brought the song to the #11 position on the pop charts and #5 R&B in 1965.

She initially did not like the song and gave a lackluster vocal performance of it in the studio in the hopes that it would end up shelved. After the session, producer Ollie McLaughlin told her that she needed to re-record her vocals. McLaughlin chided her into giving the song a winning performance. Lewis: “He said ‘You know, Barbara, Karen can sing that song better than you.’ That was his little daughter. And it pissed me off. I did one more take, and that was the take that they selected.” (Complete Atlantic Singles liner notes.)

The song also went on to become a country hit for Debby Boone and Jody Miller. Peter & Gordon brought the song to #19 on the UK Pop charts in 1965, and Cher, Cilla Black, Petula Clark, Maureen McGovern, Billy Preston and The Arctic Monkeys have recorded the song.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: May 5th, 2015 under Barbara Lewis, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: Whipped Cream & Other Delights

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #24 – Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass: 6 Track Jukebox EP: Whipped Cream & Other Delights “A Taste Of Honey,” “Green Peppers,” “Whipped Cream” b/w “Bittersweet Samba,” “Lollipops And Roses,” “El Garbanzo” – A&M 33 1/3 RPM Jukebox EP SP 410 (G3/H3)

Jukebox EPs (or extended plays, or tiny albums) were made for the jukebox market during the 1950s through the mid-1970s. They were small-holed 7” records that played at 33 1/3 RPM and cost 25-50 cents per play. They typically included four to six tracks from an album and afforded the listener at a diner or bar an extended taste of a record by their favorite artist.

Today’s jukebox EP is culled from a record with the most iconic album cover of all time, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’ classic Whipped Cream & Other Delights featuring half of the album’s twelve tracks.

Before forming the Tijuana Brass and a record company (A&M) that still lives today, Herb Alpert was best known for co-writing Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World” and producing tracks for Jan & Dean. All that changed in 1962 when he recorded the single “The Lonely Bull” in his garage and gave birth to one of the biggest recording acts of the 1960s, rivaling The Beatles.

The first few Tijuana Brass albums were recorded with a cadre of Los Angeles studio musicians. For the group’s fourth album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Alpert recruited future Tijuana Brass members John Pisano (guitar) and Bob Edmondson (trombone) and augmented them with Wrecking Crew members Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Chuck Berghofer, and Russell Bridges (aka Leon Russell). Once the album took off, Alpert solidified the TJB lineup by adding Nick Ceroli (drums), Pat Senatore (bass), Tonni Kalash (trumpet), Lou Pagani (piano), and Julius Wechter who played marimba and vibes only on studio recordings.

The food-themed Whipped Cream album, featuring such tasty tunes as “Tangerine,” “Butterball,” “Peanuts” and “Love Potion No. 9,” topped the charts and sold over 6 million copies in the United States. It also won five Grammy Awards, three for the single, “A Taste of Honey” which is the lead track on today’s EP. Sol Lake, who contributed numerous original songs to the TJB repertoire, wrote “Green Peppers,’ “Bittersweet Samba” and “El Garbanzo” for the album. The other track on this EP is “Lollipops And Roses.”

“Whipped Cream,” the album’s title track, is an Allen Toussaint-penned creation (under the pseudonym Naomi Neville) that was heard regularly on the TV game show, The Dating Game, as bachelorettes were being introduced to the audience. Three other songs from the album, “Lollipops And Roses,” “Lemon Tree” and “Ladyfingers” were also used on the show as musical cues, as well as “Spanish Flea” from the TJB’s follow-up album, Going Places!.

“A Taste Of Honey” was written by Bobby Scott and Rick Marlow for the 1960 Broadway musical of the same name. The song was originally recorded as an instrumental by Bobby Scott. The lyrics were specifically written by Marlow so Tony Bennett could record it. Lenny Welch recorded a vocal version of the song in 1962 that was heard by The Beatles who adapted it for their own recording on the Please Please Me album in 1963. The song was also a part of The Beatles’ live repertoire, and can be heard on 1962 recordings from The Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany.

The oft-covered song was also committed to vinyl by Barbra Streisand, Julie London, Tony Bennett, Chet Baker, Trini Lopez, Martin Denny, Acker Bilk, Chat Atkins, Bobby Darin, The Hollies, Tom Jones, Allan Sherman (as “A Waste Of Money”), Andy Williams, Lionel Hampton, The Ventures, Peggy Lee, The Temptations and The Rascals, to name but a few of the hundreds of versions of the song that exist.

And then there’s the album and EP cover…the most iconic in all of recorded music…the cover that launched millions of young adolescent boys sex lives!

The model on the cover, Dolores Erickson, was three months pregnant when the photo was taken! It was parodied by such artists as Pat Cooper (Spaghetti Sauce & Other Delights), Soul Asylum (Clam Dip & Other Delights), Cherry Capri and the Martini Kings (Creamy Cocktails & Other Delights), The Frivolous Five (Sour Cream & Other Delights), plus on Herb Alpert tribute albums by Peter Nero and Dave Lewis.

Thanks to my buddy Kent Rayhill (of Ohana Films), I am the proud owner of not one…not two…but 151 copies of this record…can you really ever get enough Whipped Cream & Other Delights?

Several years ago, I went to see Herb Alpert perform with his wife Lani Hall (of Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66) perform at a club. These days, Alpert covers his entire Tijuana Brass era by performing a cursory medley of their hits. The format of the show included questions and answers from the audience between songs. At the show I attended, I remarked from the audience that I have 151 copies of Whipped Cream on vinyl. Herb was somewhat taken aback by this random fact and went on to tell the story of the album cover image.

After the show, I met Alpert backstage and had him sign a sealed copy of the album for me. He asked me why I had so many copies of the album and if they were worth anything. I told him that musically, they were priceless, but since he sold millions of copies of the album back in the 1960s, they are plentiful and sell for about 25 cents each. He took it all in stride.

The following night, he performed another show in the Chicago area of which a few of my friends were in attendance. When an audience member inquired about the Whipped Cream album, he remarked that he met a guy the previous night that owns 151 copies of the album. I guess I made an impression on him (however nutty an impression that may have been).

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 29th, 2015 under Easy Listening, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #23 – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: “Jimmy Mack” b/w “I’m Ready For Love” – Motown Yesteryear Series 45 RPM Single Y 455F (E3/F3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #23 – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: “Jimmy Mack” b/w “I’m Ready For Love” – Motown Yesteryear Series 45 RPM Single Y 455F (E3/F3)

I first discovered today’s jukebox classic not in its original guise by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’, but from a cover performed by Laura Nyro and LaBelle on their classic 1971 album called Gonna Take A Miracle. When I first heard Nyro’s version, I didn’t make the connection between the song and all of the other great Vandellas hits I already knew from the radio. It wasn’t until my older sister picked up a copy of Martha and the Vandellas’ Greatest Hits album in 1972 that I finally came to fully appreciate the magic of Motown’s finest girl group.

Martha and the Vandellas was one of the most successful girl groups to come out of Motown. Unlike The Supremes, the Vandellas’ sound was far grittier and more danceable than the sugary pop that catapulted The Supremes to fame. Their list of classic hits includes “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Come And Get These Memories,” “Quicksand,” “Live Wire,” “Wild One,” “My Baby Loves Me,” “You’ve Been In Love Too Long,” and their signature single “Dancing in the Street.”

“Jimmy Mack” was written and produced by the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland and it was the group’s last American top-ten hit reaching #10 on the pop charts in 1967, and #1 R&B. It was also from the last batch of Martha and the Vandellas recordings featuring input from Holland-Dozier-Holland before they left the Motown fold. Not coincidentally, their departure from Motown aligned with the waning of The Vandellas’ popularity.

The impetus for the song came out of an industry awards dinner that Lamont Dozier attended. At the awards, Ronnie Mack won a posthumous award for composing the song “He’s So Fine.” His mother came up to accept the award on his behalf and Dozier decided he’d write the song in tribute to Ronnie Mack.

Lamont Dozier: “‘Jimmy Mack’ was about a kid who had written a song that was quite popular. When they called out his name there was something, along with the way his mother picked up the award, that kind of moved me and the name stuck with me. So when a melody came about that name seemed to spring up and fit well with the music we were writing at the time.” (NME 1984 via Songfacts)

Martha and the Vandellas originally recorded the song in 1964 as a typical teen anthem about lost love, but Motown’s quality control team rejected the recording leaving it unreleased in the Motown vaults. Three years later, Berry Gordy became aware of the recording and hearing a surefire hit made sure the song was released as a single. With the passage of time, the record took on a different meaning, especially to the many African American troops who were stationed overseas in Viet Nam.

The song was included in The Vandellas’ ballad-heavy 1967 album Watchout!, however the single version of this song opens with a drum intro that is not featured on the album cut. Personnel on the track included Martha Reeves on lead vocals, Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard on background vocals, The Andantes: Marlene Barrow, Jackie Hicks and Louvain Demps on additional background vocals and instrumentation by various members of Motown’s session group The Funk Brothers, including Richard “Pistol” Allen on drums, Jack Ashford on vibes, Bob Babbitt on bass, Benny Benjamin on drums, Eddie “Bongo” Brown on percussion, Johnny Griffith on keyboards, Joe Hunter on keyboards, James Jamerson on bass, Uriel Jones on drums, Joe Messina on guitar, Earl Van Dyke on keyboards, Marvin Tarplin on guitar, Robert White on guitar and Eddie Willis.

The song was also covered by the likes of Karen Carpenter, Phil Collins, Sheena Easton (who scored a #65 chart hit with it in1986) and Bonnie Pointer. It was also cut by The Temptations for their 1967 album In A Mellow Mood.

The flip of today’s double A-sided single climbed up to the #9 position on the pop charts and rose to #2 on the R&B charts in 1966. The song was also written by Holland-Dozier-Holland and is a dead ringer for The Supremes hit “You Can’t Hurry Love” which they also wrote.

The track was also on The Vandellas’ Watchout! album and featured pretty much the same musicians as “Jimmy Mack,” except Betty Kelly sings background vocals instead of Annette Beard. The group also cut a Spanish version of the song under the title “Yo Necesito De Tu Amor.”

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 28th, 2015 under Martha & The Vandellas, Motown, Music, R'n'B/Soul - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #22 – Bob Dylan: “Lay Lady Lay” b/w “I Threw It All Away” – Columbia 45 RPM Single 13-33178 (C3/D3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #22 – Bob Dylan: “Lay Lady Lay” b/w “I Threw It All Away” – Columbia 45 RPM Single 13-33178 (C3/D3)

The late 1960s introduced a new Bob Dylan to the world. With his motorcycle accident and requisite seclusion in Woodstock behind him, he emerged with John Wesley Harding, a rootsy, back-to-basics album in 1968 that flew in the face of the flamboyant psychedelic music that was currently all the rage at the time.

However, nothing could prepare Dylan fans for what followed in 1969: A content Dylan who was seemingly happy with his lot in life, complete with a new soulful, melodic croon of a voice that replaced the nasal monotone of the past. Most crucially, the 1969 model Dylan marked another shift in musical direction away from the mainstream, with an album of country influenced tunes called Nashville Skyline that was quite simply, unlike anything else he had recorded up to that point.

The album was recorded with a who’s who of Nashville’s finest session musicians including Norman Blake on guitar and dobro, Kenny Buttrey on drums, Fred Carter, Jr. on guitar, Charlie Daniels on bass, Pete Drake on pedal steel guitar, Charlie McCoy on guitar and harmonica, Bob Wilson on piano and organ and several others including Johnny Cash who provided duet vocals on “Girl From The North Country.”

“Lay Lady Lay,” the A-side of today’s jukebox classic was originally intended for the soundtrack of the movie Midnight Cowboy, but it was submitted too late to make the film and Nilsson’s cover of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talking” was used in its place. Dylan then offered the song to the Everly Brothers backstage at a concert. When Dylan played “Lay Lady Lay” for them, they thought he was singing “lay across my big breasts, babe” instead of “lay across my big brass bed” and didn’t’ think that the song was appropriate for them to record. When they finally heard the correct lyrics in Dylan’s recording, they realized what a mistake they had made. They finally got around to recording the song for their EB 84 album in 1984. (songfacts.com)

“Lay Lady Lay” became one of Dylan’s biggest singles climbing all the way to #7 on the Billboard pop charts. According to Johnny Cash, Dylan introduced the song in a circle of song writers who congregated at Cash’s house that included Shel Silverstein who played “A Boy Named Sue,” Joni Mitchell who broke out “The Circle Game,” Graham Nash who performed “Marrakesh Express” and Kris Kristofferson who played “Me And Bobby McGee.” (songfacts.com)

Over the years, “Lay Lady Lay” has been covered by the likes of Cher, The Byrds, The Everly Brothers, Melanie, The Isley Brothers, Keith Jarrett, Neil Diamond, Isaac Hayes, Richie Havens, Steve Howe, Booker T. & the MGs, Buddy Guy, Duran Duran and Ministry.

The flip of today’s single was the first single release from Nashville Skyline, although it only charted at #85 on the Billboard pop charts. After writing the song, Dylan shared it with George Harrison who brought it to The Beatles’ Let It Be recording sessions. Session tapes reveal that George took the song out for a spin during The Beatles’ session for a performance . The song was also covered by Cher, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, Lambchop and Yo La Tengo.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 27th, 2015 under Bob Dylan, Folk, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #21 – Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is” b/w “Me And My Shadow” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 2602 (A3/B3)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #21 – Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is” b/w “Me And My Shadow” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 2602 (A3/B3)

Records seldom get any darker than today’s jukebox classic by Peggy Lee. “Is That All There Is” was written by songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, the team who gave us such classic hits as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Searchin’,” “Young Blood,” “Charlie Brown,” “Poison Ivy,” “Kansas City,” “Stand By Me,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “Spanish Harlem” and many others, too numerous to mention here.

The impetus for the song came to Jerry Lieber from his wife Gaby Rodgers, who introduced him to the 1896 short story Disillusionment by Nobel Prize winning author Thomas Mann. Many of the song’s lyrics including its title were picked up directly from the text of the story. Lieber picked two specific incidents in the story, the house fire and the breakup of a romance for the verses, and then he added his own verse about the circus to complete the record. When Mike Stoller read Lieber’s lyrics he said that the story “ached with the bittersweet irony of the German cabaret.” As a result, Stoller based the music on that of Threepenny Opera composers Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. (songfacts.com)

The song was originally recorded by Georgia Brown, Tony Bennett, Guy Lombardo, Marlene Dietrich and Leslie Uggams before making its way to Peggy Lee. Lieber and Stoller also offered it to Barbra Streisand’s management who turned it down for their charge. When Streisand finally heard the song, she complained that she got passed over for a crack at recording it.

By the time that Lee got around to recording this song in 1969, the big band era from which she got her start as a vocalist with Benny Goodman was long over, as well as the many hit making years that followed during the 1950s. Her last top ten hit before today’s Song of the Day was “Fever” back in 1958.

The song’s orchestral arrangement was written by Randy Newman who also conducted the orchestra on the record. The track was included on Lee’s 1969 album of the same name in which she covers Neil Diamond’s “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” George Harrison’s “Something,” Randy Newman’s “Love Story” and Lieber & Stoller’s “I’m A Woman.” She also revisited the song “Me And My Shadow” that she had recorded many years earlier for the album, making it the B-side to the single.

When Lee agreed to record the song, she was very specific as to how many times she would sing the song for them. Jerry Lieber picks up the story in the book Hound Dog: The Lieber And Stoller Autobiography: “I’ll do three takes, she said, and no more … The initial takes weren’t great. She had to ease her way into the mood and find that sweet spot. At take 10, she still didn’t have it. But being a trouper, Peggy kept going. At take 15, I suspect that she took a belt because her takes were improving. Take 30 was good, but take 36 was pure magic. I looked at Mike and Mike looked at me and we could do nothing but jump up and down with joy. This was one of the greatest performances ever. Peggy had done it. We had done it. The enormous potential of this little song had been realized.” (via songfacts.com)

Continues Lieber: “Let’s hear it back, I told the engineer. We waited. Silence. We waited a little longer. More silence. What’s wrong?, asked Peggy. I’m dying to hear the last take. Then came the words that cut through me like a knife. I forgot to hit the record button, said the engineer. What do you mean you forgot to hit the record button?, I screamed at the top of my lungs. This has to be a f*ckin’ prank! No one forgets to hit the record button. This was the greatest take in the history of takes! Stop joking! Let’s hear it! Play the goddamn thing!”

“But there was nothing to play. Nothing to do. Nothing had been recorded. Killing this kid would have been too kind. Yet Peggy, bless her heart, was stoic. Guess I’ll have to sing it again, she said bravely. And she did. Take 37 was nothing short of marvelous. That’s the take the world knows today. She is melancholy, she’s sultry, she’s fatalistic, she is in tune, and she delivers the song with a wondrous sense of mystery. It is good — it is, in fact, very, very good — but it is not, nor will ever be, take 36.” The 37th take was thus used as the master, with various splices from the other takes. (via songfacts.com)

Lee’s recording climbed to the #11 position on the pop charts and topped the easy listening charts in 1969. The song also went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance the following year. Throughout the years, it has been covered by the likes of Chaka Khan, Sandra Bernhard, P.J. Harvey, Bette Midler and rock group Giant Sand.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 26th, 2015 under Big Band, Easy Listening, Music, Peggy Lee - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #20 – Frank Sinatra: “Summer Wind” b/w “Strangers In The Night” – Reprise “Back-To-Back Hits” 45 RPM Single GRE-0710 (S2/T2)

There was something magical about easy listening music from the early and mid-1960s. It was a strange confluence of male vocalists, some more talented than others, like Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Steve Lawrence, Johnny Mathis, John Davidson, John Gary, Tony Bennett and of course, the “Chairman of the Board,” Frank Sinatra. They were smooth singers with worldly good looks. The ladies were just as compelling, from the likes of Eydie Gorme, Vikki Carr, Julie London, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand. There was a sophistication level in their craft that hasn’t been matched since that particular era.

1966 was a very good year for pop vocal music in general, and especially for Frank Sinatra. He broke through again on the pop charts with a number one album called Strangers In The Night and the number one single of the same name that appealed to both young and old alike. The album would go on to win Album of the Year at the 1967 Grammy Awards and Record of the Year for the title track.

The album was Sinatra’s last one with Nelson Riddle providing arrangements, and Riddle went out with a bang on the swinging “All or Nothing At All” featuring a driving arrangement not unlike the one he did for “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” On top of that, there are masterful Sinatra versions of sixties easy listening staples like “Call Me,” “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)” and “Downtown.”

“Doobey Doobey Doo.”

For a while back in the late ‘60s, that’s all that could be heard pouring out of the mono AM radio speakers in the car my dad drove. At the time, that music was much better than rest of his automotive musical fodder which consisted of the kind of instrumental music that the “Beautiful Music” stations would broadcast.

“Strangers’” evocative melody was written by Bert Kaempfert (who was famous for writing such easy listening fare as Wayne Newton’s “Donke Schoen,” Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” and “A Swingin’ Safari,” which was also known as “The Theme from The Match Game” TV game show. ) The melody was originally titled “Beddie Bye” and it was written for the film A Man Could Get Killed. The lyrics were written by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder, who both also wrote the lyrics to Al Martino’s immortal “Spanish Eyes.”

Jack Jones actually recorded the song before Sinatra got around to it, and Sinatra was said to hate the song calling it “a piece of shit” and “the worst fucking song that I have ever heard.” (Sinatra: The Life) However, he managed to warm up to its powers as it rose to the top of the charts, and it became a staple of his performances for the rest of his life.

On the flip of this double A-sided single is “Summer Wind,” which really is the essence of the classic summer single…light, warm and breezy, with a hint of the kind of ennui you can only feel as the summer comes to a close thrown in for good measure. The song’s intro sets the perfect mood with its mélange of Wurlitzer styled organ and sexy Nelson Riddle horn arrangements. “Summer Wind” sports lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Heinz Meier, and Wayne Newton had a #78 chart his with the song in 1965 before Sinatra got around to recording it also for the Strangers In The Night album.

The song has been used numerous times in advertisements, movies and in TV shows. One of the song’s greatest TV uses was in the summer-themed episode of The Simpsons called Bart Of Darkness which is based on the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window. In the episode the family gets a pool and the Simpson’s back yard attracts all of the neighborhood kids. Bart breaks his leg and spends his summer at his bedroom window looking at the festivities below until he thinks he’s witnessed a murder at the Flanders’ house.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 22nd, 2015 under Easy Listening, Frank Sinatra, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #19 – Steve Miller Band: “The Joker” b/w “Something to Believe In” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 3732 (S2/T2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #19 – Steve Miller Band: “The Joker” b/w “Something to Believe In” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 3732 (S2/T2)

By the time of “The Joker” single, The Steve Miller Band were five years and seven albums into a career that spawned only four chart singles, the highest being “Living In The U.S.A.” which charted at a paltry #49 when reissued in 1972. (It only reached #94 when originally issued as a single in 1968.) Something had to change, or The Steve Miller Band would find themselves without a recording contract.

Salvation came in the form of the group’s 1973 album The Joker, where they abandoned their psychedelic blues-based ways for a more concise, radio-ready approach, resulting in the title track and today’s Song Of The Day topping the charts, with the album climbing to the #2 position on its heels.

The band consisted of Steve Miller on guitar and vocals, Gerald Johnson on bass, Dick Thompson on keyboards and John King on drums, with Lonnie Turner (bass) and “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow (pedal steel) making guest appearances on various tracks. It was Miller who gave the song its biggest hook with his screaming whistle-like guitar figure that repeats throughout the song.

Miller described his inspiration for “The Joker” to British magazine Mojo in 2012: “I got this funny, lazy, sexy little tune, but it didn’t come together until a party in Novato, north of San Francisco. I sat on the hood of a car under the stars with an acoustic guitar making up lyrics and ‘I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, ‘I’m a midnight toker’ came out. My chorus! The ‘some people call me the space cowboy’ and ‘the gangster of love’ referred to earlier songs of mine and so did ‘Maurice’ and ‘the propitious of love.’ You don’t have to use words. It was just a goof.”

The lyric “Some people call me the space cowboy” came from the 1969 song “Space Cowboy” originally on the Brave New World album, “Some call me the gangster of love” refers to the track “Gangster Of Love” on the Sailor album, and several references were derived from the song “Enter Maurice” on the group’s 1972 album Recall The Beginning…A Journey From Eden. That song contained the name Maurice, the name of the central character in “The Joker,” and the phrase “pompitous of love” got its first airing there as well.

The song’s famous use of the word “pompitous” also has interesting origins. “Pompitous” is actually a real word as defined by The Oxford English Dictionary as “to act with pomp and splendor.” However, when Miller used the word in the line “Cause I speak of the pompitous of love,” he misheard it from the 1954 Medallions’ single “The Letter,” where it appears in the following line: “Let me whisper sweet words of dismortality, and discuss the “puppetutes” of love.” Vernon Green, who wrote “The Letter,” defined his made-up word “puppetutes” as “A secret paper-doll fantasy figure who would be my everything and bear my children.” (Song Facts)

The song also borrows the line “You’re the cutest thing I ever did see / I really love your peaches wanna shake your tree / Lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time” from The Clovers’ 1954 #2 hit “Lovey Dovey” which was written by former Atlantic label chief Ahmet Ertegun. Ertegun later successfully sued Miller for plagiarism. Miller: “To me, it was an old blues double entendre, but I had to give him credit. I don’t mind having Ahmet’s name beside mine though.” (Song Facts)

While today’s Jukebox Classic topped the US charts in 1974, it didn’t chart until 1990 in the UK when it topped their charts after it soundtracked a Levi’s Jeans TV commercial. The flip of today’s jukebox classic is “Something to Believe In” which was an album cut from The Joker.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 21st, 2015 under Music, Rock, Steve Miller Band - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #18 – Richard Harris: “MacArthur Park” b/w “Didn’t We” – Dunhill 45 RPM Single D-4134 (O2/P2)

Along with Glen Campbell and Art Garfunkel, Richard Harris was one of a handful of great interpreters of the songs of Jim Webb. When he wasn’t acting in films like A Man Called Horse, Camelot and, of course playing the part of Albus Dumbledore in the first few Harry Potter films, he made records. While most of his records were dreadful, his first album of Jim Webb songs called A Tramp Shining was a winner, including today’s jukebox classic “MacArthur Park.”

Who knows what was really going on in songwriter Jimmy Webb’s mind when he wrote the somewhat nonsensical lyrics to this song, but one thing for sure is that it is a classic brought to the upper regions of the charts not once, but twice.

The song has its roots in a twenty minute cantata that Webb wrote that ended with “MacArthur Park.” When the cantata was offered to producer Bones Howe for The Association to record, the group declined because they didn’t want to give up that big a chunk of their album to such a long track.

The inspiration for the song came from a breakup between Jim Webb and Susan Horton who worked across the street from MacArthur Park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles where the two would meet for lunch. The very same relationship also spawned Webb’s song “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.”

The “cake in the rain” lyric of the song was recently explained by Colin McCourt who used to work for the publisher of the song. When Webb heard that Susan Horton was getting married in MacArthur Park, he attended the wedding but hid in a gardener’s shed so as not to be noticed by the bride. It began to pour during the ceremony and Webb saw the wedding cake through the rain running off the roof of the shed and it looked like it was melting. (songfacts.com)

The track was recorded at Armin Steiner’s Sound Recorders in Hollywood with backing from members of the Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, Joe Osborn on bass and Mike Deasy on guitar, along with Jim Webb on harpsichord.

During the recording, Webb kept correcting Harris who continually uses the possessive form “MacArthur’s Park” throughout the song. After a while, Webb realized it was futile and let Harris have his way, resulting in many subsequent covers of the song carrying the incorrect possessive form in the lyrics. Like The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” the single was also one of the longer songs to hit the top-ten of the singles charts during the late 1960s, clocking in at over seven minutes. The song also won a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement for Accompanying Vocalist in 1969.

The single was released in 1968 and reached the number two slot on the charts. It was subsequently covered by artists as diverse as Donna Summer (who took it to the top of the charts in 1978 with her disco version), Frank Sinatra, Waylon Jennings, Liza Minnelli, The 5th Dimension, The Supremes, Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Ferrante & Teicher, Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and “Weird Al” Yankovic, who parodied it with his version “Jurassic Park.”

The flip of the single, “Didn’t We” was the opening track to A Tramp Shining, Harris’ album of Jim Webb compositions. Reviewer Bruce Eder had the following to say about this song: “Harris treaded onto Frank Sinatra territory here, and he did it with a voice not remotely as good or well trained as his, yet he pulled it off by sheer bravado and his ability as an actor, coupled with his vocal talents.” (Allmusic) The song was covered by a whole host of pop vocalists during the sixties and seventies including Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Thelma Houston, Matt Monroe and Jim Webb.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 20th, 2015 under Easy Listening, Music, Richard Harris - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #17 – Nancy Sinatra: “These Boots Are Made For Walking” b/w “Sugar Town” – Rhino/Collectables 45 RPM Single 033 (M2/N2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #17 – Nancy Sinatra: “These Boots Are Made For Walking” b/w “Sugar Town” – Rhino/Collectables 45 RPM Single 033 (M2/N2)

Talent doesn’t always run in the family, but back in the late 1960s a lesser talent was matched with the likes of producer, arranger and all-around Svengali Lee Hazlewood, and solid gold was minted. Case in point is today’s Jukebox classic, “These Boots Are Made For Walking” by Nancy Sinatra.

Let’s face it, Nancy Sinatra would have never received the breaks she got in the music business had it not been for her iconic father, Frank and his record label. That’s not to say that Nancy Sinatra is untalented. She possesses a passable voice, and during the 1960s she wasn’t too hard to look at either.

Today’s Song of the Day was written and produced by Lee Hazlewood who encouraged Sinatra to sing the song as if she were “a sixteen year old girl who fucks truck drivers.” Hazlewood had originally intended to record the song himself, but the song worked much better coming from the perspective of a woman. (Perhaps, not coming from a 16 year old girl, but certainly an empowered woman.) Sinatra: “The image created by ‘Boots’ isn’t the real me. ‘Boots’ was hard and I’m as soft as they come.” (songfacts.com) That said, the song established Nancy Sinatra as a no-nonsense, take no prisoners kind of artist, and it ultimately went on to sell over six million copies worldwide.

Nancy Sinatra was no fly-by-night artist and during her career, she managed to land 10 hits on the Billboard charts including “How Does That Grab You Darlin’,” “Friday’s Child,” the Lee Hazelwood duets “Summer Wine,” “Jackson,” “Oh, Lonesome Me” and “Some Velvet Morning,” “You Only Live Twice,” and her chart topping duet with her famous father “Somethin’ Stupid.” And even though she was signed to her father’s Reprise record label, she was still in danger of being dropped from her contract.

Lee Hazlewood: “When ‘Boots’ was #1 in half the countries in the world, Nancy came over to my house, and she was crying. She said, ‘They didn’t pick up on my option at Reprise and they said I owed them $12,000.’ I said, ‘You’re kidding, we’ve got the biggest record in the world.’ I rang my lawyer in New York and I rang Nancy the next day and said, ‘How would you like $1 million? I’ve got 3 labels that are offering that for you right now and I can get something pretty good for myself as well.’ She talked to her father and he said she could write her own contract with Reprise – after all she was selling more records than him at the time.” (1000 UK #1 Hits via songfacts.com)

Wrecking Crew stalwarts including Al Casey, Tommy Tedesco and Billy Strange (guitar), Carole Kaye (electric bass), Hal Blaine (drums), Don Randi (keyboards), Chuck Berghofer (string bass) and Ollie Mitchell, Roy Caton and Lew McCreary (horns) were all present and accounted for on the session that gave us this number one hit in February of 1966. A video was also shot for the song to be played on “Scopitone Video Jukeboxes,” and in 1966 and 1967, Sinatra traveled to Vietnam to perform the song for the troops, who adopted it as their unofficial anthem.

So what ever became of the boots that Sinatra wears on the cover of the Boots album? The now-famous boots were made into table lamps that sit on either side of Sinatra’s couch at home.

The flip of today’s double A-sided single, “Sugar Town” climbed to the #5 position on the pop charts in December of 1966, and also reached the top slot on the Easy Listening charts in January of 1967. The song appeared on the follow-up album to Boots called Sugar, and was also performed on Sinatra’s Movin’ With Nancy TV special in 1967.

As light and innocuous as it may seem, “Sugar Town” was actually written about taking LSD, Hazelwood: “I was in a folk club in LA which had two levels. I could see these kids lining up sugar cubes and they had an eye-dropper and were putting something on them. I wasn’t a doper so I didn’t know what it was but I asked them. It was LSD and one of the kids said, ‘You know, it’s kinda Sugar Town.’ Nancy knew what the song was about because I told her, but luckily Reprise didn’t.” (songfacts.com)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 19th, 2015 under Easy Listening, Music, Nancy Sinatra - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #16 – The Beatles: “Paperback Writer” b/w “Rain” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 5651 (K2/L2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #16 – The Beatles: “Paperback Writer” b/w “Rain” – Capitol 45 RPM Single 5651 (K2/L2)

We’ve hit ground zero for classic singles! It really doesn’t get any better than the coupling of “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” on a single slab of 45RPM vinyl. And, the single wasn’t even intended to be a double A-side, it just worked out that way on the strength of the material.

Both songs were cut during the sessions for Revolver in which The Beatles began to spread their creative wings and experiment in the studio. “Paperback Writer” was recorded with a boosted bass sound because Lennon wanted to emulate the bass sound on a Wilson Pickett record he liked. It was also cut much louder than other singles of its time to make its searing guitar riff stand out on the radio, and as a result, the song topped the charts in 1966.

The lyrics were in response to a comment that McCartney’s Aunt Lil made to him challenging him to write a song that wasn’t about love. Paul: “Years ago my Auntie Lil said to me, ‘Why can’t you ever write about a horse or the summit conference or something interesting?’ So I thought, All right, Auntie Lil. I’ll show you.” (songfacts.com)

The song is written in the form of a letter from an author to his publisher talking about a book he’s written based on “a man named Lear.” Lear was Edward Lear, a Victorian painter who wrote poems and prose whom John Lennon admired. Paperback books were seen to be a cut-rate second cousin to hardcover books which were looked upon as works of art, so the writer in the song is only striving to be a paperback writer. During the song, Lennon and Harrison interpolate the French nursery rhyme, “Frere Jaques” as a counter melody.

The “meat and dolls” photo that graced first pressings of the Yesterday And Today album was originally taken to promote this single in the trades, and a promotional film directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg was created showing the Fabs traipsing around an English garden.

On the flip, is “Rain,” one of The Beatles’ all-time greatest tracks exemplifying the amount of experimentation the group were putting into their recordings of the time. “Rain’s” backing track was recorded faster than normal and played back at a slightly slower speed giving the record a psychedelic off-kilter feel. Conversely, Lennon’s vocals were recorded at a slightly slower speed and sped up during playback making his vocals sound slightly higher than normal.

The song also features one of the first uses of backwards vocals on a rock record. Lennon: “After we’d done the session on that particular song—it ended at about four or five in the morning—I went home with a tape to see what else you could do with it. And I was sort of very tired, you know, not knowing what I was doing, and I just happened to put it on my own tape recorder and it came out backwards. And I liked it better. So that’s how it happened.” (songfacts.com)

The backwards vocal at the end fade out is actually the songs first line: “When the rain comes they run and hide their heads.” Beatles engineer, Geoff Emerick said “From that point on, almost every overdub we did on Revolver had to be tried backwards as well as forwards.” (songfacts.com)

The song reached number 23 on the charts as a B-side, and Ringo Starr considers his drumming on the track to be his best recorded performance. The single’s picture sleeve inadvertently depicted Lennon and Harrison playing left handed because Capitol’s art department mistakenly reversed their photos.

Three videos were created to promote “Rain,” directed again by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. (Lindsay-Hogg first worked with the group on the set of Ready Steady Go several years earlier.) One was filmed at Chiswick House in London and shows The Beatles walking and singing in a garden, while the other two feature the band performing on a soundstage.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over 14 years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 15th, 2015 under Music, Rock, The Beatles - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #15 – Tommy James & The Shondells: “Hanky Panky” b/w “It’s Only Love” – Collectables Roulette Reissue 45 RPM Single COL-0261 (I2/J2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #15 – Tommy James & The Shondells: “Hanky Panky” b/w “It’s Only Love” – Collectables Roulette Reissue 45 RPM Single COL-0261 (I2/J2)

Today’s song was written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich under the name The Raindrops in twenty minutes as a quickie B-side to the 1963 single “That Boy John.” Jeff Barry: “As far as I was concerned it was a terrible song. In my mind it wasn’t written to be a song, just a B-side.” (songfacts.com)

Tommy Jackson sneaked into a club at the age of 13 and heard a local group perform “Hanky Panky”and after seeing its effect on the crowd, decided that he also wanted to record the song. Jackson and his group The Shondells recorded the song at their local radio station in Niles, Michigan. It was then released on the tiny Snap label and got local airplay before fading into obscurity. Meanwhile, the Shondells went their separate ways after graduating from high school.

Two years later, Bob Mack, a Pittsburgh promoter started to play the single at dance parties and it began to get local radio play and gain in popularity. Demand for the record began to take off and bootleggers got into the game making up to 80,000 illicit copies of the record to meet the demand. Pittsburgh DJ “Mad Mike” Metro contacted Tommy and asked him if he would like to come perform the song for fans, however he no longer had a band. He was matched with a local band called The Raconteurs consisting of Joe Kessler (guitar), Ron Rosman (keyboards), George Magura (saxophone), Mike Vale (bass) and Vinnie Pietropaoli (drums), and they became The Shondells, and young Tommy Jackson changed his name to Tommy James.

Record companies like Atlantic, Columbia, Epic and Kama Sutra lined up to sign the group, but the small independent Roulette label ended up signing them. Roulette was owned by Morris Levy who had reported ties to the mob.

Tommy James: “One by one all the record companies started calling up and saying, ‘Look, we gotta pass.’ I said, ‘What? What are you talking about?’ ‘Sorry, we take back our offer. We can’t…’ There was about six of them in a row. And so we didn’t know what in the world was going on. And finally Jerry Wexler over at Atlantic leveled with us and said, Look, Morris Levy and Roulette called up all the other record companies and said, ‘This is my freakin’ record.’ (laughs) And scared ‘em all away – even the big corporate labels. And so that should have been the dead giveaway right there. So we were apparently gonna be on Roulette Records.” (songfacts.com)

The single hit the number one position on the charts in 1966. The flip side of this reissue single was the title track to Tommy James & The Shondells’ 1966 album It’s Only Love, written by Morris Levy, Ritchie Cordell, and Sal Trimachi. The song reached number 31 on the Billboard pop singles charts in 1966.

Tommy James and the Shondells became one of the most commercially successful singles groups of the 1960s, selling millions of record and placing bubblegum classics like “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony, Mony,” “Crimson And Clover,” “Sweet Cherry Wine” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion” onto the upper echelon of the charts.

However, things came to a dramatic end in March of 1970, when the group played their last concert together in Birmingham, Alabama. As James was leaving the stage, he collapsed and was initially pronounced dead after suffering a bad reaction to drugs. The band continued to tour without James for a time under the name Hog Heaven, while he retired to the country to recuperate.

While recuperating, James wrote and produced the million-selling single “Tighter, Tighter” for the group Alive And Kickin’ which reached #7 on the Billboard singles chart, and followed it with his biggest solo hit, “Draggin’ The Line.”

So now it’s time to sit back and rewind to the sounds of Tommy James!

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 13th, 2015 under Music, Rock, Tommy James - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “The Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric

Dance crazes come and go, but they are never forgotten.

Most recently there was Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” wreaking havoc across dance floors all over the world while the youth of America (and Myley Cyrus) began to twerk. In the 1990s, there was “The Macarena.” In the 1980s, country line dancing and “The Lambada” had their day in the sun, and the ‘70s gave us “The Electric Slide.” But in the early 1960s, there was only one communal synchronized dance that kids and adults alike shared in, making it a staple at weddings, proms and east coast Bar Mitzvahs.

That dance was “The Alley Cat.”

In actuality, “The Alley Cat” began life as a 1961 hit for Bent Fabricius-Bjerre in Denmark under the title “Omkring et Flygel” (“Under The Table”). The song was picked up for U.S. distribution by Neshui and Ahmet Ehrtegun and released on their Atco label in 1962, where it became a million-selling top-ten hit. The song also went on to win a Grammy Award for, get this, Best Rock and Roll Record of 1962!

Fabric released six albums on Atco between 1962 and 1968, with titles like The Happy Puppy, The Drunken Penguin and Operation Love Birds, with animal-centric album covers to match. He was also paired up with Atco’s other big instrumentalist, Acker Bilk, for a series of recordings. But no matter how many albums were released, in America he is still only associated with one thing, “The Alley Cat.”

Fabric got his start playing Jazz piano in Denmark before moving into the realm of film scores, where he wrote music for 27 different Danish films. He also founded Metronome Records in 1950, which went on to become one of the most successful Danish record companies. One of his signings was Jorge Ingmann who scored a #2 hit in America with his classic instrumental “Apache.”

While Fabric has seemingly faded from view in America, he’s continued to release recordings in Denmark over the years, most recently scoring two top-ten hits in 2006 from his album called Jukebox. That album’s title track also got airplay in dance clubs across America, where a remix of “Alley Cat” was also re-released.

Surprisingly, in Mexico, ice cream trucks co-opted “The Alley Cat” as their calling card, so when children hear it blaring through the streets, it means the ice cream man is in the neighborhood.

Posted: April 12th, 2015 under Bent Fabric, Easy Listening, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #14 – Marty Robbins: “El Paso” b/w “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)” – Columbia 45 RPM Single 4-33013 (G2/H2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #14 – Marty Robbins: “El Paso” b/w “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation)” – Columbia 45 RPM Single 4-33013 (G2/H2)

I previously posted a brief piece on Marty Robbins’ recording of “El Paso” in conjunction with the last episode of Breaking Bad. It was great to see the song gain all kinds of new popularity on the heels of its use in the show. Today’s double A-sided Jukebox classic duplicates some of what I posted before, plus adds information about the equally big song on the flip of this single, “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation).”

Marty Robbins was a singer/songwriter who had dabbled in Rockabilly, Pop and Country recordings. Back in 1959, America was having a love affair with the Wild West with shows like Gunsmoke and The Riflemen lighting up millions of TV screens. It was against this backdrop that Robbins released the album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs featuring today’s self-penned jukebox classic “El Paso.” It was by far one of the most compelling story songs of its time, buoyed by the great guitar work of Grady Martin with background vocals by The Glaser Brothers.

The record was easily twice as long as any other record to hit the radio airwaves, yet it managed to top both the Pop and Country charts. Later on, it was widely covered by rock groups like X, Meat Puppets and the Grateful Dead, who made it a staple of their concert sets from the early 1970s on.

The flip of today’s double A-sided single is “A White Sport Coat (And A Pink Carnation),” another Marty Robbins smash that reached number one on the country charts, yet only number two on the pop charts in 1958. The song was written by Robbins after seeing a group of high school students all dressed up for their prom dates. The track was produced by Ray Conniff, the purveyor of dozens of easy listening vocal albums from the ‘50s and ‘60s, who was charged with making sure the record would cross over to the pop charts. (Mission accomplished!) In 1973, Jimmy Buffett paid homage to Robbins and this song by titling one of his albums A White Sport Coat (And a Pink Crustacean).

Robbins, a race car enthusiast, went on to place 47 records in the Top Ten of the Country charts and to record several more Gunfighter Ballad albums before his death in 1982 at the age of 57.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: April 5th, 2015 under Country, Marty Robbins, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #13 – Stevie Wonder: “Superstition” b/w “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” – Motown 45 RPM Single Y559F (E2/F2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #13 – Stevie Wonder: “Superstition” b/w “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” – Motown 45 RPM Single Y559F (E2/F2)

The A-Side of today’s double A-sided jukebox single was the lead single from Stevie Wonder’s landmark album Talking Book. Jeff Beck guested on the album playing guitar on the song “Looking For Another Pure Love.” While in the studio, Beck came up with the drum pattern that kicks “Superstition” into motion. From there, Wonder added the funky clavinet riff that runs through the song and a classic was born. After Wonder wrote the song, he offered it to Beck to record.

In the meantime, Motown chief Berry Gordy heard Wonder’s version and immediately knew it was a surefire smash and pressured Wonder to release it as a single before Beck could commit his version to tape. “Superstition” went on to become Wonder’s second chart-topping hit, his first since “Fingertips” hit the top of the charts in 1963. Jeff Beck was given the song “Because We’ve Ended As Lovers” as a consolation prize which he recorded for his 1975 album Blow By Blow. Beck later recorded Wonder’s “Superstition” with the group Beck, Bogart & Appice.

When Wonder turned 21, he renegotiated his contract with Motown Records giving him total control over his music with increased royalties and publishing. The first fruit of his negotiation was the album Music Of My Mind that included “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You),” the flip side of today’s double-A sided jukebox classic.

The song was one of the first tracks that Wonder worked on with Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff who invented the TONTO (The Original New Tumbrel Orchestra) synthesizer and recorded under the name Tonto’s Expanding Head Band. Margouleff: “Stevie showed up [at our studio] with the TONTO LP under his arm. He said, ‘I don’t believe this was all done on one instrument. Show me the instrument.’ He was always talking about seeing. So we dragged his hands all over the instrument, and he thought he’d never be able to play it. But we told him we’d get it together for him.” (songfacts.com) The duo would go on to help shape the recording of Wonder’s Talking Book, Innervisions and Fullfillingness’ First Finale albums.

Wonder is heard playing all of the instruments on the record including the TONTO, except for the electric guitar which was played by Buzz Feiten and the trumpet and saxophone played respectively by Steve Madaio and Trevor Laurence.

The song clocked in at over eight minutes in its original guise on the Music Of My Mind album and was written about former Motown secretary and Wonder’s first wife Syreeta Wright. The lyric “trying to boss the bull around” is about Syreeta trying to exert some control on Wonder who is a Taurus.

The first part of the song talks about “Mary’s” desire to leave her current life behind to chase the goal of stardom. The song’s second “Where Were You When I Needed You” part finds the song’s narrator wondering when she will be coming back and why it is taking so long. Musically, the second part of the song was a re-working of Wonder’s 1971 single “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” from his Where I’m Coming From album. The song was released as a single and climbed to the #33 slot on the pop charts. Indeed, Wonder’s marriage to Syreeta broke up soon after he completed work on Music of My Mind.”

Both songs on today’s Jukebox classic double A-sided single were originally issued as separate singles, each with a different B-side. The original B-side to “Superstition” was “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” and the original “Superwoman” B-side was “I Love Every Little Thing About You.”

The clip of “Superstition” accompanying this piece is an alternate live in-studio performance of the track with a full backing band.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: March 31st, 2015 under Motown, Music, R'n'B/Soul, Stevie Wonder - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #12 – The Johnny Otis Show: “Willie And The Hand Jive” b/w “Willie Did The Cha Cha” – Capitol Starline 45 RPM Single X-6040 (C2/D2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #12 – The Johnny Otis Show: “Willie And The Hand Jive” b/w “Willie Did The Cha Cha” – Capitol Starline 45 RPM Single X-6040 (C2/D2)

Johnny Otis was known as the original “King Of Rock & Roll” long before Elvis Presley donned the title. He was an influential performer, disc jockey, record producer, TV show host and talent scout who discovered such artists as Jackie Wilson, Little Willie John, Hank Ballard, Big Mama Thornton and Little Esther.

Otis scored 15 Top 10 R&B hits between 1950 and 1952, including his #1 cover of the jazz standard “Harlem Nocturne.” He was a keen talent scout who opened up his own club in L.A., the Barrelhouse, and discovered many R&B and jazz greats.

He discovered Etta James when she was only 13 years old and produced and co-wrote her first hit single “Wallflower (Roll With Me Henry).” He also discovered Big Mama Thornton singing while cleaning hotel rooms. He co-wrote, produced and played on her seminal recording of “Hound Dog” in 1953, several years before Elvis Presley brought the song to the charts; however Otis’ songwriting credit was removed from Elvis’ recording by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. He also wrote “Every Beat of My Heart” which was a hit for both The Royals in 1952 and Gladys Knight & The Pips in 1961, and played on and produced Johnny Ace’s number one hit “Pledging My Love” and The Fiestas’ classic hit “So Fine.”

Today’s Song of the Day was a 1958 release that climbed all the way to #9 on the Pop charts and #1 R&B featuring an infectious Bo Diddley beat with terrific guitar work by Jimmy Nolen. The song is about a dance featuring hand movements called “The Hand Jive.”

The dance came from England where teenagers were not permitted to stand and dance at concert venues. Instead they created a hand movement dance that could be done from their seats. When the record came out, Capitol Records included a diagram to show fans how to do the dance. It’s also been said that the “Hand Jive” was also slang for masturbation.

Eric Clapton had a #26 chart hit with the song in 1974 from his 461 Ocean Boulevard album. It was also covered by Johnny Rivers in 1973, The Strangeloves on their 1965 album I Want Candy, Cliff Richard in 1960, The Grateful Dead (in 1980s concerts), New Riders Of The Purple Sage, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Levon Helm and George Thorogood, who also had a minor chart hit with the song in 1985.

The flip is one in a long line of “Willie” follow ups; this one was to capitalize on the cha cha dance craze of the 1950s. During the 1960s, Otis ran for the California State Assembly and lost. He then became chief of staff for Democratic Congressman Mervyn M. Dymally. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994 and was also the father of soul star Shuggie Otis. Johnny Otis died of natural causes on January 17, 2012.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: March 30th, 2015 under Johnny Otis Show, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #11 – Cream: “Sunshine Of Your Love” b/w “SWLABR” – Atco 45 RPM Single 45-6544 (1967) (A2/B2)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #11 – Cream: “Sunshine Of Your Love” b/w “SWLABR” – Atco 45 RPM Single 45-6544 (1967) (A2/B2)

Today’s Jukebox classic was the biggest hit single by classic rock supergroup Cream. While some were spray painting the buildings of England with proclamations that Eric Clapton was God, the real star of Cream was the late, great bassist Jack Bruce. Not only was Bruce the songwriter behind some of the group’s biggest hits, but it was his voice that defined the group’s sound. Ginger Baker, of course, laid down the backbeat that drove the machine to greatness, and as for Clapton, he’s been literally coasting on the stellar guitar work he laid down with this group over 40 years ago.

They were, indeed, one of the early “supergroups” with very high pedigree. Clapton had played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds and had backed blues greats like Sonny Boy Williamson and Champion Jack Dupree. Baker played with Jazz artist Acker Bilk (of “Stranger On The Shore” fame), Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and the Graham Bond Organisation. Bruce had played with Baker in Korner’s Blues Incorporated and The Graham Bond Organisation, with Clapton in The Bluesbreakers and Powerhouse (that also included singer Paul Jones and Steve Winwood), and briefly with Manfred Mann. And for once, this supergroup was much better than the sum of its parts, especially since Bruce and Baker didn’t get along at all.

Cream never made a solid studio album, and even so, the band’s studio recordings are far more preferable than their live workouts that featured endless jamming extended to maddening proportions. Even though albums like Disraeli Gears, Fresh Cream and the half studio-half live Wheels Of Fire are considered classics today, they really are patchy affairs, each featuring a clutch of classic singles surrounded by throwaways.

Today’s Song of the Day was the first single release from Cream’s 1967 album Disraeli Gears. “Sunshine Of Your Love” was written by Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton with lyrics by beat poet Pete Brown who also wrote the lyrics to the Cream hits “I Feel Free” and “White Room.” The classic bass line riff that runs through the entire song came to Jack Bruce after he and Clapton attended a Jimi Hendrix concert. The song was regularly covered in concert by Jimi Hendrix, who probably didn’t even know he inspired its creation.

The record almost didn’t get a single release because Atco label chief Ahmet Ertegun thought that it was “psychedelic hogwash.” It was only after Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. and the MGs) championed the song that Ertegun green-lighted a single release. When the single was first released before Disraeli Gears came out, it only climbed to the #36 position on the pop charts. The single was re-released in 1968 after the album came out and ultimately rose to the #5 position on the pop charts becoming Cream’s biggest hit single in the states. Over the years, the songs has been covered by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald and The 5th Dimension, to Santana and Frank Zappa.

The single’s B-side is another rip-roaring rocker written by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown called “SWLABR.” Common knowledge dictates that “SWLABR” was an acronym for “She Walks Like A Bearded Rainbow,” however both Bruce and Brown have said that the acronym actually stands for “She Was Like A Bearded Rainbow.”

The song was inspired by a type of flower that Jack Bruce ordered from the florist for his girlfriend. When the delivery man arrived, Bruce and Brown asked the florist about some of the flowers that came in the bouquet and were told that the flower in question was a type of iris called a Bearded Rainbow, hence the song title. Nevertheless, it was the late 1960s, and today the title is still pretty much meaningless.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: March 29th, 2015 under Cream, Music, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #10 – Jack Jones: “Wives And Lovers” b/w “Toys In The Attic” – Kapp 45 RPM Single K-551 (1963) (S1/T1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #10 – Jack Jones: “Wives And Lovers” b/w “Toys In The Attic” – Kapp 45 RPM Single K-551 (1963) (S1/T1)

I know I’ve featured this 1963 classic before, but it’s one of my very favorite Burt Bacharach-Hal David compositions. I just love the nonchalance of Hal David’s lyrics – “Hey! Little Girl Comb your hair, fix your makeup. Soon he will open the door. Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger. You needn’t try anymore.” It is so innocent and yet so chauvinistic in a “ring-a-ding-ding” early sixties kind of way at the same time.

Add to it the 1950s bobby sox/teen idol production sheen of the recording and Bacharach’s light-as-air musical accompaniment and you’ve got all of the makings of a classic pop record right up there with the likes of Johnny Mathis’ “Chances Are,” Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” and Steve Lawrence’s “Go Away Little Girl.”

While it is widely assumed that “Wives And Lovers” was written as the title song to the 1963 film of the same name, it never actually appeared in the film. Hal David: “We were asked to write what would be called an “exploitation song.” It wasn’t going in the film, but it was meant to come out and every time it got played the name of the film would be performed. It was a song made to promote the film, but it was never in the film. It was never meant to be in the film. Exploitation songs were very common in those days.” (songfacts.com)

Jack Jones won his second Grammy award for “Wives” in the category of Best Pop Male Performance in 1964. He also won one in 1962 in the same category for his hit “Lollipops and Roses.” Along with the equally talented pop vocalist, Robert Goulet, he was also known for his recording of “The Impossible Dream” from the musical Man Of LaMancha. Jones also scored chart hits with “The Love Boat” from the TV show of the same name and “Lady.”

The flip of today’s Jukebox Classic was written by George Duning as the title song from the 1963 film Toys In The Attic, starring Dean Martin and Geraldine Page. (Not to be confused with the Aerosmith song of the same name.) As of several years ago, Jones was still performing and releasing new music.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: March 25th, 2015 under Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Easy Listening, Jack Jones, Music - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #9 – The Pointer Sisters: “Yes We Can Can” b/w “Jada” – Blue Thumb 45 RPM Single BTA-229 (1973) (Q1/R1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #9 – The Pointer Sisters: “Yes We Can Can” b/w “Jada” – Blue Thumb 45 RPM Single BTA-229 (1973) (Q1/R1)

This Allen Toussaint-penned gem comes from the Pointer’s self-titled debut album from 1973. It’s infectious…it’s funky…it’s contagious…it’s been often sampled, but never improved upon!

The Pointer Sisters were indeed real sisters. They began as a duo performing under the moniker “Pointers, A Pair” in 1969 featuring sisters June and Bonnie. Anita joined in 1970 and they became in-demand background vocalists, singing for the likes of Grace Slick, Sylvester, Boz Scaggs and Elvin Bishop. While backing Bishop in 1971, they were signed by Atlantic Records where they released several singles that went nowhere. Sister Ruth joined in 1972 when they signed with Blue Thumb Records.

On Blue Thumb, their goal was to meld their jazz and vocalese style of singing with the sounds of be-bop and funk in order to create something new and unique. They topped this all off by dressing in 1940s clothing making them stand out amongst the funky threaded artists of the early 1970s. One of the first songs they recorded for the album was Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can” which came to them via producer David Rubinson.

The song established the sisters as a recording act reaching #11 on the pop charts and #12 on R&B. Backing the Pointers on the album were Willie Fulton on guitar, Dexter Plates on bass and Gaylord Birch on drums. The album also included the top forty hit “Wang Dang Doodle,” plus the Wilton Felder composed “That’s How I Feel” and the flip of today’s single “Jada,” which was named after Anita Pointer’s daughter.

While the group found early success in the 1970s, their career really took off in the 1980s with a string of smash hits including their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire,” “He’s So Shy,” “Slow Hand,” “Automatic,” “Jump (For My Love),” “I’m So Excited,” and “Neutron Dance.”

Today’s Song Of The Day was written by Allen Toussaint and originally recorded in 1970 by Lee Dorsey under the title “Yes We Can.” Toussaint is one of New Orleans’ favorite sons, responsible for penning a jukebox full of classics that have spun gold for those who have recorded them. Songs like “Mother-In-Law” (Ernie K-Doe), “Working In The Coal Mine” (Lee Dorsey, Devo), “Fortune Teller” (Benny Spellman, Rolling Stones, The Who), “Southern Nights” (Glen Campbell), “Java” (Al Hirt), “Whipped Cream” (Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass), “Sneaking Sally Through The Alley” (Robert Palmer), “What Do You Want The Girl To Do” (Boz Scaggs) and today’s Song Of The Day have poured out of his pen and up the charts, and these are just the tip of his iceberg of hits.

Toussaint has also contributed his arrangement and production talents to a stellar list of albums including Paul McCartney & Wings’ Venus And Mars and its single “Listen To What The Man Said,” Labelle’s Nightbirds and its single “Lady Marmalade,” The Band albums Rock Of Ages, Cahoots and The Last Waltz, and Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees. Post Katrina, he recorded an essential album with Elvis Costello called The River in Reverse, a traditional New Orleans jazz album called The Bright Mississippi and an exceptional live album.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: March 24th, 2015 under Music, R'n'B/Soul, The Pointer Sisters - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #8 – Luther Ingram: “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right)” b/w Hot Butter: “Popcorn” – Collectables Records Double A-Sided 45 RPM Single COL-3170 (O1/P1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #8 – Luther Ingram: “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right)” b/w Hot Butter: “Popcorn” – Collectables Records Double A-Sided 45 RPM Single COL-3170 (O1/P1)

Today’s classic comes from a double A-sided reissue single on the Collectables record label released specifically for jukeboxes featuring two big hits by two different artists. Most of the records in the juke are original pressings, however this was the only copy of Ingram’s soul classic I could find at the time I was looking, plus having two hit singles by two different artists on one record is indeed a bonus.

The A-Side of today’s double-sided single is Luther Ingram’s infidelity ballad “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right),” which is one of the greatest soul singles of all time! The song was written by STAX songwriters Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson. Banks also wrote the Sam And Dave classic “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down,” and billed as “We Three” with Raymond Jackson and Bettye Crutcher, wrote Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love” and The Staple Singers’ “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me).”

“If Loving You Is Wrong” was originally recorded in 1970 by The Emotions with an up-tempo arrangement that didn’t serve the song well. As a result, the record was left on the shelves of STAX records unreleased. Luther Ingram moved to Memphis after several failed attempts at a recording career in New York City and signed a recording contract with the KoKo label which was distributed by STAX Records. With the label, he found success scoring the top-ten R&B hit “Ain’t That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)” in 1970.

While at STAX, Ingram discovered The Emotions’ version of “If Loving You Is Wrong” and rearranged and recorded the song as a mournful ballad. His version topped the R&B charts and rose to the number three position on the pop charts in 1972, selling over four million copies.

The song has been covered by a plethora of artists including Isaac Hayes, Rod Stewart, Percy Sledge, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Ramsey Lewis and Cassandra Wilson. Millie Jackson’s 1974 chart version of the song was expanded into an eleven minute suite complete with a spoken “rap” which was nominated for two Grammy Awards. Barbara Mandrell also scored a country hit with her rendition of the song in 1978.

If all Ingram did in music was to give us this signature recording, his stature would be sealed as an R&B great, however Ingram was also the co-writer(with Mark Rice) of The Staple Singers’ empowerment anthem “Respect Yourself.”

The flip of this double A-sided single is “Popcorn” by Hot Butter. “Popcorn” is a bubbly electronic confection composed by German musician Gershon Kingsley who was known for his work composing classical and Broadway music, and writing TV commercial jingles. Kingsley recorded the influential electronic album The In Sound from Way Out! with Jean-Jaques Perrey for Vanguard Records in 1966. The album promoted the use of synthesizers in pop music years before German recording artists Can and Kraftwerk.

Kingsley first recorded “Popcorn” for his 1969 album Music To Moog By, and then recorded the song again in 1971 with his First Moog Quartet. Stan Free was a member of The First Moog Quartet and re-recorded the song in 1972 under the name Hot Butter.

Hot Butter’s record came out during the moog craze of the early 1970s that saw classical records by the likes of Walter/Wendy Carlos (Switched On Bach) and Isao Tomita (Snowflakes Are Dancing) cross over to the pop charts and sell millions of copies. Hot Butter’s recording was one of the first all-electronic records to chart on the Billboard Hot Singles Chart, peaking at #9 pop and #4 on the adult contemporary charts.

The song was not named for popcorn that you eat; rather it was an amalgam of “pop” for pop music and “corn” for the kitsch and novelty of the recording. It has been covered by the likes of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, Jean Michel Jarre, Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops, James Last, Norrie Paramour, Ronnie Aldrich and The Muppets.

Kingsley also wrote the music used by Disney theme parks for its Main Street Electrical Parade and the theme from the TV game show The Joker’s Wild.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: March 23rd, 2015 under Hot Butter, Luther Ingram, R'n'B/Soul, Rock - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #7 – Paul & Linda McCartney – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” b/w “Too Many People” – Apple Records 45 1837 1971 (M1/N1)

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #7 – Paul & Linda McCartney – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” b/w “Too Many People” – Apple Records 45 1837 1971 (M1/N1)

Lyrics were never his strong suit…and the lyrics from “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” are at best incoherent. However, you’d be hard pressed to argue with the musical prowess of Paul McCartney especially on today’s Song of the Day.

Today’s single was culled from Paul McCartney’s second solo album Ram, the only album in his vast catalog credited to Paul & Linda McCartney. The album was recorded in New York City with backing musicians David Spinozza on guitar, Hugh McCracken (who replaced Spinozza for the second half of the sessions) on guitar and future Wings member Denny Seiwell on drums.

The construction of “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” picks up where the second side of The Beatles’ Abbey Road left off. Here we have McCartney dabbling in multi part suites of music, and the song is an amalgam of its many unfinished parts. McCartney wouldn’t perfect this way of song construction until “Band On The Run” two years later.

The song was inspired by Paul’s real Uncle Albert Kendall who married his Aunt Millie. Uncle Albert would habitually get drunk and then read passages from the Bible out loud. The admiral of the song was inspired by American Naval Admiral William “Bull” Halsey,” however Paul’s use of Admiral Halsey’s name was chosen because of the way it sounded and had nothing to do with who Halsey was or what he did.

The single was McCartney’s first chart topper away from The Beatles and it won the Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists in 1971. It was never released as a single in the UK, where they got “The Back Seat Of My Car” instead as Ram’s first single. The song’s flugelhorn part was played by Jazz be-bop trumpet player Marvin Stamm who never met McCartney in person, as his parts were recorded in London and overdubbed onto the master in New York. The New York Philharmonic Orchestra was also brought in for the arrangement.

The flip of the single is “Too Many People” which is also the opening track on Ram. After the acrimonious split of The Beatles, Lennon and McCartney cryptically addressed each other in lines from their songs. Several lines from “Too Many People” were seen as snipes at John Lennon, like the line “Too many people preaching practices.” Paul: “[John had] been doing a lot of preaching, and it got up my nose a little bit.” (SongFacts.com) The line “You took your lucky break and broke it in too” was also seen as addressing McCartney’s former writing partner with the lucky break referring to being a member of The Beatles and his breaking it in two about their breakup.

Lennon retorted on his next album Imagine with the scathing “How Do You Sleep.” The album also included a postcard photo in early pressings depicting a smiling Lennon holding a pig’s ears in the same pose as McCartney holding the ram’s horns on the cover of Ram.

The sessions for Ram also produced McCartney’s first solo single “Another Day,” as well as early versions of “Big Barn Bed,” “Little Lamb Dragonfly” and “Get On The Right Thing” which turned up on McCartney’s 1973 album Red Rose Speedway. McCartney released an all-instrumental version of the Ram album in 1977 under the pseudonym of Percy “Thrills” Thrillington.

Ram was roundly panned by the critics when it was released in 1971; however it has grown in stature over the years. I’ve always loved the album and it is still one of my all-time favorite records all these years later. As far as “musical comfort food” goes, this one has been a staple in my diet since it came out – very tasty, always reliable with plenty of room for multiple helpings.

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over fourteen years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Posted: March 22nd, 2015 under Music, Paul McCartney, Rock, The Beatles - No Comments. Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Birthday” by The Sugarcubes

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Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Birthday” by The Sugarcubes

Possessing an otherworldly approach to singing and an obtuse sense of fashion, Iceland’s greatest musical export is Bjork! Go ahead…name another!

Bjork started out as a children’s recording artist making her first record at the age of 11. By the late ’80s, she joined The Sugarcubes and had a large alternative hit with “Birthday.” The band could not sustain its Fleetwood Mac-like relationship issues and broke up after a few albums allowing Bjork to spread her wings (ever seen that dress) and become the most original vocalist since Yma Sumac.

Her new album is entitled Vulnicura.

Posted: March 19th, 2015 under Bjork, Music, Rock, The Sugarcubes - No Comments. Tags: , , , , ,